The Chinese Belt and Road initiative attracts different countries from all over the world, achieving interconnected relationships and simplifying the trade and investment process, repairing cracks in economic globalisation and forging regional economic cooperation, and putting the international economic order on the right, rational path, Xing Guangcheng and Wang Xuemei write.
In recent years, the process of globalisation has come under threat and we see a tendency towards the fragmentation of the modern international economic system. The Chinese Belt and Road initiative (BRI), which is grounded in the principles of joint consultation, joint construction and joint use, attracts different countries from all over the world, achieving interconnected relationships and simplifying the trade and investment process, repairing cracks in economic globalisation and forging regional economic cooperation, and putting the international economic order on the right, rational path. In the five years since the BRI was first launched, China has continuously strived to explain to the world the basic concepts of the initiative and through its work, promotes its essence: openness, transparency, inclusivity, and win-win mutual benefit. Therefore, more countries are seeing a real opportunity in taking part in the Chinese Belt and Road initiative. More and more European countries, such as Greece, Italy and others, have decided to take part in the Chinese initiative, and they are internally driven by a desire for mutual benefit and mutual gain.
BRI: China Shows Strength, Coming Out From the Shadows
China is still rethinking its role on the world arena, and the answer to the question of what role it assigns itself has not yet been found. That is why the theory of the “Chinese threat” is so effective, as it reflects more the fear of the unknown and presumed destruction of the values of the neo-liberal order, than the real ability of the PRC to turn relations with its partners into an analogue of a traditional 'tributary system'.
Russia is an important supporter and participant in the process of promoting the BRI. In 2015 China and Russia signed the “Joint Statement on Cooperation on the Construction of Joint Eurasian Economic Union and the Silk Road Projects”. China intends to connect an economically active, rapidly developing East Asia with rich, developed Europe with the help of the Silk Road Economic Belt, and Russia and Central Asia stand to serve as the central zone and hub. So China needs strategic cooperation with Russia in order to move ahead, to Europe through Russia and the countries of Central Asia. At the same time, Europe is the largest trading partner of Russia and for its economic development, Russia needs to implement interconnection and simplify its process of trade and investment with Europe. It is the gradual coupling of interests that stimulates Russia’s active and constructive participation in the Chinese initiative, and contributes to the further deepening of the confluence between the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the Eurasian Economic Union. In May 2017, during the first Belt and Road Forum on international cooperation, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave an active cooperative signal and expressed hope that the Northern Sea Route would be connected with the BRI. In January 2018, China published a White Paper on China’s Arctic policy, which reflects the country's readiness to build the ‘Ice Silk Road’ along with all interested parties, based on the development and use of the Arctic route. This is also China’s active response to Russia’s participation in Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative. The Northern Sea Route is the shortest route connecting Asia and Europe. Chinese-Russian joint construction of an “Ice Silk Road” could provide a new option for the interconnected relationships on the Eurasian continent, while at the same time it will intensify the economic development of the Northeast of China, Russia’s Far East and Siberia.
Belt and Road Project Strengthens the Role of China
The Belt and Road (BRI) is a significant project, especially for the developing countries of South and Southeast Asia, as well as for some African countries. It strengthens the role of China, which is gradually regaining its status as an economic superpower, and contributes to the development of a multi-polar globe.
Over the past five years, the points of convergence of interests of the two countries have gradually become more relevant. Their interconnectedness with respect to transport, fuel and energy infrastructure is deepening every day: the Yamal LNG project and the construction of the eastern route of the Chinese-Russian gas pipeline are at an advanced stage, the Chinese-Russian oil pipeline is stable, and the realisation of the main projects of the trans-border transport network in the eastern Chinese-Russian border region is soon to be completed. Along with this, the cooperation between the two countries is developing in such areas as trade, economics, production facilities, high-tech innovation, aviation, astronautics, etc. We can say that Sino-Russian cooperation, within the framework of the Belt and Road initiative, has had an exemplary effect. Such practical cooperation, based on the laws of the market economy and international rules, makes the Chinese initiative more attractive.