"One Belt One Road"is China's Gift for the world : Next phase of Globalization
By Syed Hasan Javed
The policy of 'Economic Reforms and Open door' to the world followed by China's successive leaderships ever since 1978 have transformed not only China itself but also the regional and global economic situation. China's successful transition from a Centrally Planned socialist economy to a Market economy based on the principles of 'Laissez faire' or Free Market, has helped it to utilize the full potential of human, materially, natural and social resource endowments. These were accomplished by the Reformist leadership under a well thought-out Policy of Reforms in every sphere of life.
The Reformist leader Deng Xiaoping and his colleagues in the Communist Party undertook a dispassionate study of the weaknesses of the economy and the society, which had not enabled China to develop itself to its full capacity. They came to conclusion that while external powers may have accentuated by way of sanctions China's economic difficulties, the causes for China's underdevelopment, backwardness and lingering poverty were in China's own institutions and policies. China's blessed leaders did not feel shy at all to acknowledge the shortcomings, weaknesses and mistakes and correct them. China hence undertook a series of policy reforms to achieve its Four Point Modernization Program. i.e Agriculture, Industry, Science and Technology and National Defense in the same order. These Reforms promoted good governance, economic development, regional peace and global stability.
From 1978 to 2017, China has gone through various phases of Reforms, learning and adding value at every stage in the process. It is difficult to establish a sequential relationship between these policy changes, as they did not follow top-down trajectory but emerged as a 'bottom up' development. Some of these reforms worth recalling are Agriculture Household Responsibility System, Industrial Policy, Contract System, Township Village Enterprises (TVEs), Special Economic Zones (SEZs), Improvements in Civil Service, Revamping of Security, Human Resources Development, Mobilization of Overseas Chinese, Learning from global best practices, Simplification of Rules and Procedures, Incentives for Foreign Investment, Promotion of Export Culture, Priority to Economic diplomacy, Promotion of peace and stability at home and abroad, Revival of Chinese Soft power values etc. (Known as Chinese Characteristics) and above all a change in Mindset.
China's success in implementing its complex set of Policy Reforms ensured an average 9 to 10 percent sustained growth rate in GDP (Gross Domestic Product) for over three decades. China's GDP achieved a figure of US $21.8 Trillion in 2016, as per IMF estimates. China's Exports have increased to more than US $ 2.3 trillion, making it the largest trading partner of 142 states in the world. China leads the world in Patent applications, Electricity generation, steel production, Renewable Energy, Bullet trains construction and mileage, Essential Consumer items, most Minerals and Agriculture goods. Even under conditions of global economic slowdown, China's GDP growth rate now at its 'New normal' rate between 6-7 percent, contributes a quarter to global GDP growth.
China's rise has boosted the prospects of Globalization by making available competitive goods and services within the reach of global majority, enhancing general welfare of the humanity. It has enabled the working and lower middle class to enjoy the life style and consumer preferences which were once only the privilege of the Elite and privileged sections of population. China's rise as an economic Great power has enhanced the prospects of the emergence of an egalitarian, rule based and justice based global economic governance. It is because China had been a victim of exploitation, greed and plunder by marauding Colonial powers for at least a Century and half. Secondly the Chinese cultural heritage of thousands of years abhors greed, injustice and inequity. It has bequeathed to the Chinese people the precious 'Code of balance and harmony, ethics and morality, moderation and rationality'.
China's President Xi Jinping's epoch making paradigm of 'One belt, One Road' (OBOR) is a 'synthesis' of the rich ancient cultural heritage and its modern day achievements. The OBOR seeks to establish an 'extended prosperous neighborhood' under the template of building a 'Community of Shared destiny' through reviving Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) and 21st Century 'Maritime Silk Route' (MSR). Angus Madison British Economic historian had observed in his findings that China remained 'Number One Economic Power in the world for more than Nine Centuries'. It is also true that it never indulged in War and conflicts, loot and plunder of either near or distant lands. During many centuries of golden era of Silk Route trade through land or maritime means, China shared the fruits of its prosperity with the other peoples.
The One Belt One Road is thus a 'reincarnation' of China's long cherished cultural paradigm that seeks 'Prosperity Thy Neighbour', based on a value system of 'Positivism'. Through OBOR, China seeks to build six Corridors for trade and cultural exchanges connecting Sixty five countries in Europe and Asia with gross investment of US$ 1.2 trillion (net US$ 880 billion) over the period 2015-2030. These Corridors will connect China to the heartland of Russia, Europe, Middle East, Central Asia, South Asia and South East Asia. The OBOR's concept of 'Regional connectivity' is based on the philosophy of 'Double Win' or 'Shuang Ying'. The OBOR is opening up the interior of Euro Asiatic Continent, assisting in stabilization of West Asia and Middle East, contributing to lessening the tension in South Asia and reducing Poverty, backwardness, underdevelopment and despondency through- out the interconnected region. The OBOR is a strategic, Political, Economic and Cultural Paradigm aimed at restoring sanity, tolerance, moderation, balance, harmony, peace, stability and security, in a tormented region.
In the contemporary context, the protagonists of geo-political domination promote the non-existent 'China Threat' Narrative, in order to promote Arms race, Conflicts and Wars, in order to sustain their military industrial complex. The OBOR is an open cordial 'Invitation' by the Chinese people for the International community, beginning with those in their neighborhood far and wide, to share in 'Chinese dream' and benefit from their spectacular rise. China does not seek domination, nor is interested in an Arms race. The OBOR is not only the next phase of globalization, but also provides a Post Modern Strategic Diplomatic Paradigm of Peace and Development, Stability and Security in the World.
The OBOR is the Chinese way (Dao) of sharing its prosperity and caring for its near and far Neighbors. The strategy aims to connect regions/ societies build Convergence, Coexistence, Community and Multi-polarity. The greatest asset of OBOR is the abundance of 'Trust'. The OBOR has already achieved its core objectives. What makes China different from other Great Powers is its strong Value system of Pacifism, tolerance, moderation, benevolence, solidarity, justice, equity, compassion, balance and harmony. The Chinese are 'winning over the hearts and minds' of the population of the Extended Euro-Asiatic region, Africa and Latin America.
China – Pakistan Economic Corridor is the Flagship project of the OBOR. It involves US $ 46 billion (now US $ 57 billion) investment in Energy, Motorways, Railways, Pipelines Ports and infrastructure projects. These projects will connect China's Xinjiang Regional city of Kashgar to deep Seaport of Gwadar. The CPEC will reduce Eighty percent cost, distance and delivery time for China's goods to reach markets in West Asia, Gulf region, Middle East, Africa and South Asia, servicing nearly half of world's population. Almost US$ 16 billion of Projects of CPEC are nearing completion under 'Early Harvest Program'. Like Pakistan, other countries in the world are also translating the 'Chinese dream' for their own deeper engagement and interaction with China in order to benefit from its rise. The OBOR is indeed a powerful branding. The human societies are always yearning for change. By opening up new Economic growth points, promoting Regional connectivity and reviving cultural exchanges will enable better global understanding achieving 'Confucian Golden Mean of Balance and Harmony'.
The author is a retired diplomat of Pakistan who has served as Pakistan's Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany. He is now heading as Director, Chinese Studies Centre of Excellence in the National University of Science and Technology in Islamabad.