US Should Not Politicize the ‘Belt and Road’ Mega-Infrastructure Project

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, capital of China, May 14, 2017. [Photo/Xinhua]

By Caleb T. Maupin

May 16, 2017 – The biggest and most important international gathering of 2017 has taken place in Beijing. Over 100 countries were represented. 1,500 people attended, including various heads of state, the United Nations Secretary-General, the leaders of the International Monetary Fund, as well as some of the most well known and respected scientists and engineers.

The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) was not a place of ideological podium pounding. The gathering of world leaders from all different backgrounds had only one real theme: Progress.

The forum did not discuss the merits of philosophers. Rather, it discussed the construction of high speed trains, power plants, highways, hospitals, airports and schools. The forum made specific plans for the China-led initiative of bringing impoverished countries into a more prosperous state of being, with infrastructure and investment in public services.

Over 100 countries and 50 intergovernmental agencies are on board with this New Silk Road initiative. Investment in the project has increased by 36 percent in 2016, with over 126 billion US dollars being spent. High speed rail is connecting the countries of Southeast Asia. Bangladesh has signed agreements for over 25 projects. An airport is being built in Nepal, along with a hydro-electrical power plant, and railway.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is bringing new hope to millions, as are the railway lines providing ocean access to landlocked regions in Central Asia. This is just to name a few of the hundreds of projects launched in the last four years.

It is those poorest corners of the world, the sections of the planet most affected by drug cartels, terrorism, extreme poverty, illiteracy, and lack of access to medical care and gainful employment, that so far have been the focus of the project. Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe are filled with hope as cooperation in the project offers access to a better life for millions of people.

At the center of it all is the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, an institution devoted to sustainable development and providing an opportunity to historically impoverished countries.

It should be deeply reflected upon as to why the head of the state of U.S. was noticeably absent from this historic gathering while the heads of state of China, Russia, and Turkey spoke at the opening ceremony, along with the UN Secretary-General. Comments from some high ranking U.S. leaders view the project with cynicism, and present it as some kind of sinister plot to ensure Chinese world domination. At a Senate hearing in Washington last Thursday, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats said, "The Chinese have a strategy. You name a part of the world, they are investing in it."

Some U.S. leaders have referred to the New Silk Road as China’s Marshal Plan. However, unlike the Marshall Plan, the New Silk Road has no political stipulations. While the United States required Marshall Plan countries to be anti-communist and partisan in the Cold War, China makes no such demands on participating countries. In his remarks to the forum Chinese President Xi Jinping stated, "We have no intention to intervene in the affairs of other countries or to export our social system." (Continued)

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Three ‘Yeses’, Three ‘Noes’: China’s Post-Cold War International Policy

China opposes alliance with any other

China opposes alliance with any other

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (R) and China’s President Xi Jinping attend a documents signing ceremony during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, May 8, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]

By Wu Jianmin

China Daily, May 11, 2015

To say China and Russia are forging a new ideological bloc is simply absurd. The term "ideology" is misleading. What does it mean? No country in the world likes outside interference in its internal affairs, ideology or no ideology.

International law prescribes the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of another country. And one of the cardinal principles of China’s foreign policy is: No alliance with any other country.

China believes military alliances are a product of the Cold War. With the end of the Cold War, alliances have become obsolete. China used to have a military alliance with the Soviet Union, and it was an unpleasant experience.

In 1978, China adopted a new policy orientation called "reform and opening-up". Since then, China has entered a new period of growth. And its foreign policy is now the extension of its domestic policy. In line with its domestic policy that focuses on economic growth, China has designed a peaceful development strategy for its foreign policy.

What does peaceful development strategy mean? It means three "noes" and three "yeses". The first "no" is no expansion. China will never follow in the footsteps of the former colonial powers. The second is no hegemony. China will never follow the policies of the United States or the Soviet Union. The third is no alliance. China will never enter into a military alliance with any country.

The first "yes" is yes to peace. China has taken a huge undertaking to modernize itself. Peace is the sine qua non for development. The second is yes to development. China faces many problems and believes only development can help solve them. The third is yes to cooperation. China is aware that in a globalized world, no country can modernize itself in isolation. International cooperation is indispensable, and it is because of global cooperation over the past 36 years that China has achieved miraculous economic growth.

President Xi Jinping has been reiterating that China will stick to its peaceful development strategy, and it has no reason to deviate. True, over the past few years, cooperation between China and Russia has deepened on the basis of mutual benefit. But that is because the Chinese and Russian economies are highly complementary. China is a resource-poor country, while Russia is a resource-rich country, and they need each other.

The trade volume between China and Russia reached $95 billion last year, making up about 2 percent of China’s foreign trade. So, there is ample room for further development. Bu China is ready to build cooperation with other countries, too, on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. In this context, the growth of the China-US relationship is a case in point, as their trade volume reached $540 billion last year.

On the Ukraine crisis, China’s consistent position has been that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of every country in the world should be respected. China believes the Ukraine crisis cannot be solved through military means and urges all relevant parties to seek a solution through diplomatic channels.

The author, former president of China Foreign Affairs University, is a member of Berggruen Institute’s 21st Century Council and Foreign Policy Advisory Committee of Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Commentary: US-Led Like-Minded Coalition Unable to Win Anti-Terror War

Photo: Chinese and Pakistani soldiers in joint anti-terrorism training

Xinhua, New China News Agency
Feb 18, 2015

BEIJING, Feb. 18 — U.S. President Barack Obama is set to host the "Summit on Countering Violent Extremism" in Washington on Wednesday in an attempt to address the aggravating terrorist violence across the world.

This summit will be attended by security experts and government officials from member countries of the U.S.-led anti-terrorism coalition against the backdrop of recent terrorist attacks in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001, the United States has actively spearheaded the international fight against terrorism.

In the name of counter-terrorism, the George W. Bush administration launched two successive wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which, instead of stemming terrorism, have bred waves of terrorist activities and violence that have claimed tens of thousands of innocent lives.

Over the past 13 years, terrorist activities continue to rise worldwide. The Islamic State (IS) and other emerging terrorist groups pose new challenges to the global fight against terrorism, and their birth was partly related to the U.S. Middle East policy.

Last year, on the eve of the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Obama set out his strategy to unite with other countries for military actions against the IS in a televised address to the American public.

"America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat," Obama declared. "Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy IS through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy."

Compared to Bush’s coalition, the "new anti-terror coalition" proposed by Obama appears to be more extensive, as it has to date involved more than 60 countries and regional organizations, some of which have taken an active part in the airstrikes against the IS.

But this coalition is not inclusive enough as Russia, Iran, Syria and other countries, which are capable of contributing to the fight against the IS, are excluded.  (Continued)

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