Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, November 16th, 2018

Belt and Road Initiative: A Globally Productive Project

Afghanistan has played a role as the “Center of Asian Crossroads” in the Ancient Silk Road and seeks to regain its position in the Belt and Road Initiative, which was put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 on his visit to Central Asia and South Asia in a bid to boost connectivity through building a network of highways, railways and pipelines linking Asia, Africa and Europe.
On his recent visit to China, Afghan Senate Chairman Fazal Hadi Muslimyar asked the Chinese leadership to give special significance to Afghanistan’s geo-political position under the BRI.
The initiative, comprises the overland ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’ and ‘21st Century Maritime Silk Road’, spans 65 countries, covering more than 60 pc of world’s population and one-third of global GDP. Economic belt is physical road made up of six corridors that link China to Central Asia and South Asia and onward to Europe. These corridors include roads, railways, bridges and power plants. The Maritime Silk Road is a network of seaports or shipping lanes which links China to the nations of South East Asia, the Gulf Countries, North Africa, and on to Europe. With the engagement of many states, the scope of the BRI is still taking shape.
The Silk Road, whose name is derived from the lucrative trade of silk from China to Eurasian countries, was an ancient network of trade routes that connected the Eurasia. It was central for cultural interaction between the regions for many centuries. Trade along the Silk Road had major impacts on the development of the civilizations of China, Korea, Japan, the Indian subcontinent, Persia, Europe and Arabia as it opened long-distance economic relations between civilizations. However, the Ottoman Empire boycotted trade with the west and closed the Silk Road.
China is seeking to open a new page in the history through revitalizing the ancient Silk Road and strengthening global connectivity. A Chinese saying goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” China intends to go far and the initiative will promote global economy through infrastructure, connectivity, financial mechanism and public policies. According to Scott Kennedy of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the B&R will “include promotion of enhanced policy coordination across the Asian continent, financial integration, trade liberalization, and people-to-people connectivity”. Therefore, China calls all nations to get on board the express train of China’s peaceful development.
Vasquez, a member of Washington-headquartered Schiller Institute, says that the “economic cake” grows along with China’s progress in infrastructure building and development in science and technology, there will be “more cakes” to go around for everyone.
It is believed that building a harmonious world of lasting peace and common prosperity is one of the main objectives of the BRI. The spirit of Silk Road which has been handed from generation to generation up to now is “peace, cooperation, openness, inclusiveness, mutual benefit and mutual learning”. So, the initiative is a development strategy without ideological objective. It goes without saying that the joint efforts in the frame of BRI will be more successful than the individual struggle for four reasons: Network effects, organized financing mechanism, leadership and China’s stage of economic development. To enhance economic development, China says, “Build it and they will come”. This strategy will bear the desired result for BRI countries. According to Chinese economists, connectivity and economic link play the best role in the development of a country and this connectivity is possible only through building roads as a Chinese saying goes, “Building the road is the first step towards prosperity”. 
Moreover, the BRI will generate new trade and investment opportunities, alleviate global poverty, create jobs and contribute to global economy. Through linking the coastal regions, the BRI will bridge the gap between rural and urban areas so as to build a balanced economy.
Since being self-reliant in the era of globalization is almost impossible and peoples need to fulfill their needs through supply and demands, more than 100 countries and international organizations have joined the BRI, 86 countries signed the Memorandum of Understanding with China and the United Nations General Assembly adopted its resolution to support this global infrastructure inter-connectivity endeavor.
The initiative is complementary to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the United Nations, as China prioritizes sustainable development in social and economic issues. One of the main reasons behind the SDG is alleviating poverty, as it states in the fourth section of Article 1: “By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance”. This is the very objective of the initiative as China seeks to build a moderately prosperous society and “a community with a shared future” where all can live free from poverty and hunger.