China's Westward One Belt One Road Strategy

Discussion in 'Strategic Defense' started by tidalwave, Sep 29, 2016.

  1. Blackstone
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    Blackstone Brigadier

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    Several points you made bear further discussions.

    No disagreement on long distance land transport being more expensive vis-a-vis waterway transports, but inland areas don't have direct access to coastal harbors, and yet their need for development isn't any less than coastal regions. So, the calculus isn't land transportation being more expensive than water, but land transportation grants a realistic and thus far the only way forward for economic development.

    The entire Central Asia region, and I'd include Western China in that geography for discussion purposes, benefit from land-based economic integration, even if it's more expensive than sea routes. What's the alternative? Little or no development, but high cost savings by not using land/air transportation? Hardly the better choice, wouldn't you say?

    How is China being the largest trading nation in the world any different than a decade earlier when it wasn't the largest, and yet every bit as dependent on the Brenton Woods international trade order? China supported the liberal international order after Deng opened up the nation to the world, and that's still the same globally, except for North, East, and South East Asia.

    The victimization narrative is a recent event, and atypical of China's history for thousands of years. China is still working out its post-reemergence place in the world, and the victimization angle will eventually fade as it reestablish its traditional self atop of Asia. No one knows for sure what form that will take, but it's likely along some kind of soft hegenomy; a 21st Century version of the imperial "tributary system" perhaps?

    By the way, US hegenomy is hardly "soft," as history show it is one of the most ruthless and successful great power in human history.

    China's wealth comes from domestic and international dealings, and it's only natural for its leaders to use its still-growing comprehensive national power to foster greater development and protect its interests all over the world. In this regard, China is no different from other great powers.
     
  2. AndrewS
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    AndrewS Senior Member
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    Long-distance land transportation is expensive, which is why we rarely see the development of big inland cities/populations without access to a river or ocean.

    It's just more cost-effective and efficient to locate industries/factories in places which do have access to waterborne transport.

    I don't disagree that inland areas do need transportation commensurate with their needs, but we can see Western China and Central Asia are dry and sparsely populated areas.

    That sparse population and long distance also means central asia can't really function as Mackinder's pivot.

    Look at how European Russia has struggled to influence China/India/MiddleEast (which are power centres in their own right), precisely because its centre of economic/industrial power is so far away.

    If China were to control the pivot area (sparsely populated Siberia+Central Asia), it would have the same problem trying to influence European Russia which is just so far away from core China.

    And Siberia+Central Asia will remain sparsely populated because of the climate plus the lack of fresh water.

    ---

    Yes, US hegemony has frequently veered towards hard power, but one should hope that China does a better job in the future.

    ---

    Yes, years ago, China benefited from having access to a liberal trade order, when trade was even more important to China's development, whilst keeping its own economy relatively closed.

    But now China arguably would benefit more from a liberal investment order for its multi-nationals to expand.
     
    #52 AndrewS, Apr 26, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2017
  3. Blackstone
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    Blackstone Brigadier

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    I don't agree with your analysis on Mackinder's Central Asia being geography pivot of history, but your view isn't withut merit. So, we're at an impasse and we could agree to disagree.

    If you haven't read Mackinder's book, may I be bold and suggest you try it? A simple phrase or two on his ideas can't possibly do the subject justice. Two other great books to fill out Mackinder are "The Revenge of Geography" by Robert D. Kaplan, and Peter Frankopan's "The Silk Roads: A new history of the world." There are also Youtube videos where the authors give entertaining and informative talks about their books. I've read/seen the works all three authors, and they're well worth the time.
     
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  4. delft
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    delft Brigadier

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    The climate change we are experiencing will provide Siberia with access to the oceans by way of the Polar Sea all year round. Rivers might be frozen part of the years but one can live with that. Until half a century ago the Rhine froze over for weeks in many winters. Northern US and Canada have the same problem.
    And don forget that rail transport has become much better and cheaper in developed countries and others are following.
     
  5. timepass
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    timepass Brigadier

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    OBOR

    The Belt and Road Initiative is a very positive project that helps boost sustainable economic development in the world, especially in ill-connected Asia, a former U.S. diplomat has said.

    "I think it's a very important project. I think the idea of reconnecting Asia is very important," Marc Grossman, vice chairman of The Cohen Group, told Xinhua in a recent interview. "Because if you look at the area, especially in South Asia, this is a part of the world where, unlike many other parts of the world, there are very few connections really."

    "When you think about how well-connected Europe is and how much an advantage that has been for its economic development, all those things have yet to come in parts of Asia and Southeast Asia, parts of central Asia, certainly in South Asia as well," said Grossman, who served as U.S. ambassador to Turkey, assistant secretary of state for European affairs, and under secretary of state for political affairs.

    "So this is a big vision on the part of the government of China," he said.
    Grossman, who was the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan from February 2011 to December 2012, said the Belt and Road Initiative would help tackle the unifying challenge in South Asia -- economic growth.

    "What is the unifying challenge in South Asia? For example, people need jobs. People need sustainable economic development. People need a future," he said. "So I think one of the most interesting things about this vision is that it could really produce a lot of jobs for many, many people (in the region)."

    The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a collection of infrastructure projects currently under construction throughout Pakistan, is a "very interesting, specific example" of the Belt and Road Initiative comprising the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, Grossman said.

    "These are positive things, so I'm sure there are lots of reasons to be interested in the Belt and Road Initiative, but for me, it's the question of economic growth," he said.
    Globalization has lifted millions and millions of people out of poverty. However, Grossman said that some people have been left behind, so he regarded the Belt and Road Initiative as an opportunity to provide jobs to those who have not yet benefited from globalization.

    The former U.S. official said the upcoming Belt and Road Forum in Beijing in mid-May, the highest level of its kind since the initiative was proposed, represents "a continuing, very important effort on the part of the Chinese government" to showcase the Belt and Road Initiative.

    "When the summit occurs in May, I think the Chinese side will have a chance to really discuss their objectives and to be honest with people about some of the concerns that are out there. That's only natural. This is a big project and so it's not surprising that people would have concerns about that," he said.

    The Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China in 2013 consists of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road. It aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along and beyond the ancient Silk Road trade routes.

    Grossman said China's message has to be clear that the Belt and Road Initiative is a joint project on a voluntary basis, and "not some effort by China to control a lot of other countries."
    "This is a joint development project. It's not just China telling you what to do or telling you how to do business or giving you some instructions somehow," he said.
    "I've always believed that you have to start with a vision, so the Chinese have this vision and so now the question is who will carry out the vision and how will the vision be carried out, and that's one of the most important issues (the summit has to answer)," he said.
    Grossman expressed the hope that some early results would be presented at the summit to demonstrate the great potential and feasibility of the huge project.
    "I think it's very important to make sure that there's some real success, some early demonstration that this works," the expert said. "People would like to see an example of how this works and how it works fairly, transparently and successfully."

    [​IMG]
     
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  6. AndrewS
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    AndrewS Senior Member
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    Read them all, but I think Kaplan and Frankopan's works are better.

    Let's have a closer look at Russian control of the Pivot Area and Mackinder's Theory.

    The Pivot Area borders Europe (Russia), East Asia (China), along with South Asia and SW Asia.

    But was Russia strong enough to dominate East Asia along with South Asia and SW Asia?

    The issue is that the Pivot Area lacks fresh water/rainfall and good waterborne communications links. So it doesn't count for too much in terms of population nor industrial/economic heft.

    So it is relatively easy (in the modern era) for Russia to encroach and establish control. But then that outside power has to contend with all the other neighbours along the vast border regions, who are suspicious about that expansion. And those neighbours are economic powers in their own right, so economic logic dictates that the Russian border regions should be linked with India/China rather than Russia.

    Realistically, neither China nor India nor Russia have sufficient economic resources to control the pivot area and also exert sufficient influence against the other 2 parties.
     
  7. AndrewS
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    AndrewS Senior Member
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    Have you looked at the distances in Siberia?

    We can see the inland regions in the Northern USA and Canada are pretty sparsely populated, precisely because of transport and climate. Plus Siberia is much higher up north.

    Plus the Rhine may be frozen sometimes, but it isn't very far overland to Rotterdam

    Yes, if Northern Russian waters becomes navigable that would make a difference. But it takes decades to populate an area.
     
  8. AndrewS
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    AndrewS Senior Member
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    China's One Belt, One Road to challenge US-led order

    Hugh White
    Professor of strategic studies at the Australian National University in Canberra

    http://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/chinas-one-belt-one-road-to-challenge-us-led-order

    PUBLISHED
    APR 25, 2017, 5:00 AM SGT

    Next month, what is likely to be this year's biggest international summit will convene in Beijing to discuss the world's most ambitious project. China's "Belt and Road Initiative" aims to redefine the global economy of the 21st century by integrating the economies of Europe, Asia and Africa through an unprecedentedly powerful network of transport and communications infrastructure.

    Some estimates put the price tag at a trillion dollars, which would make it one of the biggest, if not the biggest, economic development programme in history, far overshadowing America's Marshall Plan which rebuilt Europe after World War II.

    No wonder so many world leaders are turning up in Beijing to claim a piece of it. China's Foreign Minister recently announced that 110 countries would be represented, including no fewer than 28 national leaders. They include the presidents of Russia, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Pakistan and the Philippines from Asia, and many others from Europe and Africa. It is going to be a very notable gathering.

    Among countries not sending their national leaders are the United States, Japan, India, most West European countries, Australia and Singapore. They will all be represented, but at more junior levels. It is no coincidence that these countries are aligned with America and uneasy about China's rise - or perceived to be so.

    So plainly there is a lot going on here beyond simple economics. To many people, China's Belt and Road Initiative (or "One Belt, One Road" as it is also known) is not really about economics at all. It is all about expanding China's strategic and political influence at America's expense. That's probably half right, but we should not overlook the powerful economic logic that underpins the geopolitical calculations.

    [​IMG]

    In fact, there are several economic imperatives driving China's Belt and Road Initiative. They include the need to foster development in China's own more remote and underdeveloped regions, and the hope of finding outlets for China's massive overcapacity in key industries like steel-making.

    But the key motive is much bigger and more ambitious than these. China wants to consolidate its position at the centre of the global supply and manufacturing networks which will be the key to the global economy over the coming decades. Beijing understands that as China's economy matures and its income levels rise, the lower-wage industries which have fuelled China's growth so far will migrate to less-developed countries where labour costs are lower.

    China's economic planners do not want to fight that trend, but turn it to China's advantage by building itself an impregnable place at the centre of the expanding supply-chain web which will result from it. That way, it can capture the lion's share of more sophisticated higher-wage economic opportunities.

    The Belt and Road Initiative is central to this vision, and therefore to realising China's ambition to become a middle-income country. And it meshes with and mutually reinforces China's parallel ambition to take the lead over the coming decades in developing key technologies and setting global standards - including for such critical elements of infrastructure as high-speed rail and data networks.

    Of course, all of this is so far just a bold vision. Making it a reality will require an extraordinary alignment of financial resources, technical skills, political commitment and international cooperation. None of these can be taken for granted, so a degree of healthy scepticism is therefore in order.

    And yet we'd be unwise to dismiss the Belt and Road Initiative as a mere pipe dream. It has the power and prestige of President Xi Jinping behind it. It is at the centre of his vision for China, and of his ambition to transform China's place in the world during his time as its leader. He is determined to make it work, and in China today that counts for a great deal.

    Plainly, many countries around the world think that it needs to be taken seriously, which is why so many leaders will be there in Beijing next month. And already it is starting to change both the geo-economic and the geopolitical landscape.

    We can see its geo-economic implications by comparing what the Belt and Road Initiative tells us about China's vision of its economic future with the policies of the Trump administration and what they tell us about America's economic vision.

    While President Xi prepares to welcome the world to Beijing to promote a plan to export low-income jobs in industries like steel-making to other countries, and shift Chinese workers into higher-income ones, President Donald Trump is launching a plan to lock out imports of steel so as to revive America's steel industry. He wants to put US workers back into the jobs that Beijing wants to move Chinese workers out of.

    The contrast could not be starker. America wants to shrink its role in the global economy and cling to old industries, while China wants to expand its global role and move its economy into new ones. No prizes for guessing which of these visions is more likely to succeed.

    And that brings us back to the geopolitical and strategic equation. Clearly the leaders who are choosing to stay away from Beijing next month are right to fear that the Belt and Road Initiative has immense geopolitical significance. Even if it delivers on just a fraction of its aspirations it will become a powerful instrument for Chinese influence in Asia and beyond, and go a long way to consolidate its claims to international leadership at America's expense.

    But those leaders are wrong to imagine that they can stop that happening just by staying away. They have to offer an alternative. If America and its allies are really determined to resist China's challenge to the old US-led liberal global order, they have to counter Beijing's powerful vision of a future global economy centred on China. And to do that they need an equally powerful and ambitious global economic vision of their own.

    • The writer is professor of strategic studies at the Australian National University in Canberra.
     
  9. delft
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    delft Brigadier

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    We're not talking about weeks but indeed decades. The areas along the Mississippi and its contributories, around the great Lakes and along the St Lawrence are well populated and the same is likely to happen along the Ob, Lena and other great rivers.
     
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  10. Equation
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    Equation Lieutenant General

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    Perhaps it is better for some elite Americans to give up their "liberal global order" dream instead and focus on rebuilding after decades of neglect and being hijacked by special interests groups that had ignored the middle class and working class both at home and abroad with this mantra of one size value fits all.
     
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