Belt and Road | Bruno Maçães

Summary of: Belt and Road: The Sinews of Chinese Power
By: Bruno Maçães

Introduction

Embark on a fascinating journey as we explore ‘Belt and Road: The Sinews of Chinese Power’, an insightful book delving into China’s ambitious global project. Discover how One Belt, One Road is reshaping international trade, politics, and economics through the development of a vast network of transportation routes, energy infrastructure, and digital connections. Gain clarity on China’s motives in transforming itself from a regional player into a global superpower; while also understanding how this venture impacts countries, communities, and their responses to rising Chinese influence.

China’s Global Ambitions

China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative is a massive and ambitious project aimed at building a web of transportation routes, energy infrastructure, and digital networks connecting Eurasia. While the initiative is vague, it is clear that China seeks to expand its influence on land and at sea. The project has been met with criticism and concern from Western nations, who view it as a threat to the global order, an attempt to buy countries’ loyalty with cheap money, and a potential military threat. The initiative is viewed as a metaphor for China’s global ambitions, and its success or failure will likely have far-reaching consequences.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative

China’s Belt and Road Initiative signifies a shift in its foreign policy as it aims to mold the world to its tastes. The initiative includes economic transactions benefiting multiple nations and resolving shortages in things like phosphate. However, the initiative is more than just rebalancing markets; it is Beijing’s attempt to establish new relationships and become a global leader. The initiative seeks to establish new routes for oil supplies to avoid disrupting China’s energy supply. With the Belt and Road Initiative, China recognizes that its quick rise makes it a rival viewed with caution by the United States and the rest of the world.

Belt and Road: China’s Global Economic Strategy

China’s Belt and Road initiative aims to strengthen economic cooperation across the globe, connecting countries through new networks of infrastructure, including roads, bridges, airports, and telecommunications systems. Unlike the US-sponsored Marshall Plan, Belt and Road is designed to generate demand and create economic prosperity beyond China’s borders. The state retains control over strategic sectors, and the initiative promotes the Chinese model of economic development. Belt and Road extends beyond Europe and Asia to encompass Africa and other regions where China can gain allies. The project also aims to help developing nations without technological infrastructure to thrive in the ecommerce market, providing ample opportunity for online retailers like Alibaba to expand their customer base.

China’s Belt and Road Projects

China’s Belt and Road initiative involves funding infrastructure projects across other countries, but this approach comes with drawbacks. While China sometimes pays the cost, burdened partner states like Djibouti face debt crises. Similarly, Sri Lanka’s port project, financed by Chinese loans, saw China take a 70% stake when Sri Lanka could no longer repay. Such instances raise concerns over China’s political interests risk overshadowing financial acumen. China is investing billions in its state-controlled commercial banks for Belt and Road projects, assuming significant control over the funding of infrastructure development in other countries. However, the more debt countries accumulate from China, the more financially dependent they become on China, allowing it to redirect immense financial resources to pursue its policy goals. As a result, Belt and Road projects carry long-term risks that are difficult to mitigate, such as non-performing loans and the potential for China’s political interests to undermine sound financial acumen.

Belt and Road: Seeding Economic Corridors

The Belt and Road initiative aims to build economic corridors at a fast pace, requiring hefty investment to win a return. A successful economic corridor involves the construction of industrial parks, free-trade zones, and roads. China has built dozens of these corridors, including Horgos International Cooperation Center, which China sees as its gateway to Europe. Kazakhstan is considered a strategic prize by China, and near Horgos, China is developing a dry port to create new industrial areas and cities along the trade routes. Belt and Road expansion travels through former Soviet satellites, but China also has made inroads in Pakistan, a nation it views as the gateway to the Indian Ocean. China has built an industrial park in Gwadar and plans to construct a $500 million residential project for an anticipated flood of half a million Chinese workers arriving in the city in the next few years.

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