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Showing posts from September 7, 2019

China’s Accidental Belt and Road Turns Six

The initiative that almost wasn’t still isn’t.BY SALVATORE BABONES | SEPTEMBER 6, 2019, 3:00 PMChinese President Xi Jinping gives a speech at a press conference after the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing on April 27. WANG ZHAO/GETTY IMAGESChina’s all-embracing Belt and Road Initiative—its master plan for reorienting the economic networks of Afro-Eurasia around a Chinese core—turns six this week. Belt and Road is ubiquitous; it’s everywhere China is, and then some. But it almost never was.The first half of the Belt and Road formula, the Silk Road Economic Belt, was accidentally launched in 2013 in Kazakhstan. The second half, the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, was created to assuage the jealousies of countries such as Indonesia and Sri Lanka that felt left out of the first. Neither was much more than a public relations gimmick, but both have captured the world’s imagination as no other foreign-policy program since the Marshall Plan has.The Belt and Road hoopla all got started on the st…

Is China’s Belt and Road Initiative Strategic Genius, Arrogant Overreach or Something Else?

Is China’s Belt and Road Initiative Strategic Genius, Arrogant Overreach or Something Else?The Belt and Road Initiative is China’s bold and risky response to internal tensions and external pressure, but it is not backed by an inspiring idea.Atul Singh • Sep 04, 2019Beijing, China © Zhao JiankangPresident Xi Jinping, the modern-day emperor of China, clearly has a deep sense of history. On September 8, 2013, he gave a speech at Nazarbayev University in Almaty at the invitation of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Xi quoted a Chinese saying — “[A] near neighbor is better than a distant relative” — and referred to Chinese envoy Zhang Qian.Apparently, this legendary envoy of the Han dynasty came to Central Asia 2,100 years ago. In the words of Xi, Zhang’s “mission of peace and friendship” led to the “ancient Silk Road linking east and west, Asia and Europe.” Xi reminded the audience that his home province of Shaanxi was the starting point for this legendary trade route and Almaty was …