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Zeitgeist captured in ambitious initiatives

2015-02-25 11:33:25       source:Global Times

By Wu Shicun

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

While visiting Central Asia and Southeast Asia in September and October 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping envisioned the strategic concept of building the Silk Road economic belt and the 21st century maritime Silk Road, known as the "One Belt and One Road" initiative. This blueprint is a specific way to implement the "two centenary goals" proposed at the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China against the current background and a grand plan of China to assume international responsibility and seek global recognition. It has drawn enormous attention from scholars both home and abroad since then.

Though the master plan of the initiative has yet to be released, how to comprehensively understand its connotations, how to predict and control potential risks and challenges and what mechanism can fully put it in place are all issues we need to meticulously delve into.

The rise of a great power always goes along with the spirit of a certain age, like the ideas of "free trade" sweeping over the UK in the 19th century and "democracy and freedom" engulfing the US over the 20th century. China should also sublime and extract its own zeitgeist during the process of peaceful rise. In the present international context, such a spirit should be neither a zero-sum game of mercantilism nor a tool to disseminate a certain ideology. Instead, it should be aimed at developing China and benefiting other countries.

Based on the spirit of China's ancient maritime Silk Road, the "One Belt and One Road" concept integrates and carries the idea of peaceful development and common prosperity and leads the world to a new era of cooperation, opening up, mutual benefit and win-win progress. Therefore, this strategic vision is providing a fresh possibility to promote economic development, peace and stability in the region.

Establishing an effective mechanism to promote and implement the "One Belt and One Road" plan is key to its success. We can draw on relevant experience of developed countries in this connection. The initiative is not a Chinese version of the Marshall Plan, but its experience leading to success is worth learning.

For instance, it established the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development for better coordination, combined financial aid and public goods purchase and meanwhile actively guided private firms to participate. Similarly, we can also set up a new mechanism guided by the authorities, centered by non-governmental organizations and investment and participated in by private enterprises.

Such a transparent, professional and standard mechanism will help mitigate the security concerns of surrounding countries to further facilitate us in going global.

Today, there are plenty of cooperation mechanisms on political security, regional economy and finance in the Asia-Pacific region, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia, the East Asia Summit, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the BRICS Development Bank. We should properly manage the relations with these existing mechanisms while implementing the "One Belt and One Road" initiative.

Plus, risk assessment and control is critical to avoiding possible political, security and economic risks. Leadership changes in Sri Lanka and Greece have exerted negative influence upon China's projects there, sounding the alarm for the ongoing "One Belt and One Road" plan. Therefore, how to design and advance this strategic project in a scientific and reasonable way has become an urgent topic.

As a systematic project to help release investment impulsion, alleviate both internal and external pressure and improve the national image, it is of obvious significance. Nonetheless, we should rationally view investment impulses and conduct risk assessment before implementation in a bid to evade economic and security risks triggered by local politics. In addition, we need to launch scientific and rational planning in accordance with international experience and development plans of China and its neighbors.

The author is president of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies.