Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a transcontinental long-term policy and investment program which aims at infrastructure development and acceleration of the economic integration of countries along the route of the historic Silk Road. BRI promotes the innovation of the global governance model. Although some voices of doubt are heard by some congressmen, think tanks and media in the U.S, Japan, Europe and India, the world have to admit that China did not repeat the old road of “hegemonization” but created a new road for a rising power.
This is how the rise of China will be different from other so-called great powers. No war, no destruction just peace and stability in the region and across the globe. BRI is not just a regional initiative it’s to connect the whole world but the historic Silk Road puts a major focus on countries in Asia, Eastern Africa, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, a region mainly composed of emerging markets. According to the Belt and Road Portal, currently, 71 countries are taking part in the Initiative, together representing more than a third of the world`s GDP and two-thirds of the world’s population.
How CPEC will benefit Pakistan and the regions nearby?
CPEC will not only benefit China and Pakistan but will have a positive impact on Iran, Afghanistan, the Central Asian Republic, and the region. The enhancement of geographical linkages having improved road, rail and air transportation system with frequent and free exchanges of growth and people to people contact, enhancing understanding through academic, cultural and regional knowledge and culture, the activity of higher volume of flow of trade and businesses, producing and moving energy to have more optimal businesses and enhancement of co-operation by the win-win model will result in well connected, an integrated region of shared destiny, harmony and development. Media is being used for misinformation and disinformation in this era against BRI. India toes the western media line and when it comes to CPEC, India spreads fake news in routine.
After extensive research got to know generally there are three perceptions in the world regarding BRI. The first perception is a positive one that BRI is a game-changer not for a few countries in fact for the whole region and it will play its key role in neighboring diplomacy and regional cooperation. It will prosper multiple domains in the world. The second perception is that BRI is only in the interest of China and it’s a debt trap for other countries. The third view is that the rest of the world is still unaware of it properly, they hardly know about BRI projects.
Starting with the negative perceptions what generally they are, I have put some of them in writing here: US & India claims that Chinese-led economic and financial initiatives like the BRI and the AIIB are manifestations of Beijing’s geopolitical ambition and are long-term challenges for Washington’s standing in the Indo-Pacific region. For example, Gwadar Port’s development and its functioning give leverage to China’s naval power in the Indian Ocean, which is perceived as a potential conflict of the U.S. naval supremacy in one of the world’s busiest waterways.
It lacks supervision from countries which results in corruption there are few cases one of them being from the Philippines. i.e “NBN-ZTE Corruption Scandal” The NBN-ZTE broadband deal was approved by the Philippines government through a unanimous vote by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) board, which was then headed by Arroyo as president. This case was one of the most controversial cases in the Philippines. Central Asia’s geographic location, between China & Russia, makes the area even more strategic for the U.S. as it can gain an advantage on China & Russia by increasing their influence in the region.
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An often-cited example of the ‘debt-trap diplomacy’ is the case of Hambantota in Sri Lanka, where the local “government was forced to sign the port away on a 99-year lease after failing to repay Chinese loans”. A statement that has later been confuted, but the news had already spread widely by then. People suffering from Sinophobia usually quote that case too, even the current opposition in Pakistan has also quoted this too.
The Maldives owes about $1.4 billion to China
It is a huge sum for a country that has a GDP of $5.7 billion. The China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins University in a study said that Zambia’s total loans from China amounted to almost $6.4 billion in end-2017. “If this figure is correct, Zambia may have a total debt of $14.7 billion (including state-guaranteed loans), of which Chinese loans account for some 44 percent,” the CHR Michelsen Institute said in a report.
I generally thought that most of the people in Pakistan might be “Pro-Chinese” after realizing the loss we have had in decades because of being closer to the United States, or not having the ability to say NO to the hegemons, but I was wrong! People in Pakistan are still influenced by the US, more or less the way to rule with hegemony for the US is still making people their slaves. In Pakistan still, two blocks are spotted clearly one “Pro-US” and the other “Pro-China” these choices are not seen only in public but also in all pillars of the state. For Instance: Parliamentarians are also divided into two categories when it’s about the understanding of politics one category, we have is Sinophile and the other one we have is suffering from Sinophobia.
The majority of Pakistani’s are happy and dreaming for Gwadar port to become new Dubai in fact every government has always cherished it as a great project also three different governments (15 years tenure) claim CPEC to be their initiated or executed project. This is the first time it is witnessed Pakistani government is criticized a lot on the development of CPEC & Gwadar, it is being portrayed that the current government is not good enough to handle the transcontinental projects. Opposition parties are claiming on one side Chinese aren’t happy with Pakistan’s progress whereas the same opposition claims at times that China has fallen into a debt trap just like Sri Lanka they will snatch our Gwadar port and much more in the name of 90+ years lease.
The writer is a Journalist and anchor Person of current affairs. She is currently enrolled in the Master’s Program scholar Renmin University China as a global politics student. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space