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OBOR: China wants to lead from front but solo

The One Belt One Road mega event known as Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Beijing concluded with much fanfare which has marked a journey for China into global stage as a big power. It could be a step towards achieving China’s long cherished dream to get back that lost glory of Middle Kingdom. The BRI has signaled China’s intention for future. It appears Beijing is ready to dump BRICS and other initiatives, intends to go solo. Although BRI is going to be a flagship venture for China, the Communist Party of China would be the main beneficiary than the Chinese state. The grip of the CPC in power will be harder and Jinping’s statesmanship could be compared with that of Deng Xiaoping, if all goes well.


Many agree while BRI is going to propel China into a global power play, Xi Jinping is to be the true yellow emperor if the project succeeds as per Chinese dreams and strategy.

Even after the BRI forum, many still wonder about the project and scholars and government officials are looking for details.

The BRI is not a project which belongs so much to the Chinese government rather the CPC is the main architect which plays significant role from behind.

The CPC central committee which dominated by President Xi has roped in most of the companies, party strategists and experts who could advise on a long term basis.

This time Communist Youth League, state council and PLA were forced to take a back seat since Jinping is rising.

The BRI is often projected as a shared destiny for many countries who have given their consent in which China is only offering its expertise, lending money at no strings attached and looking for a future for the world community.

China also advocates how the BRI can be driver of world economy which can alleviate poverty and bring peace and prosperity to millions of people.

It says BRI can bring more than 65 countries in the fold, connect to 4.4 billion people and hold 33 per cent of global GDP in future.

All that is fine and sounds like a great achievement but how it works on the ground is a matter of future. In fact, Deng Xiaoping used to say while convincing Chinese officials to construct the Three Gorges Dam that ‘either you should do big or do nothing’.

That way BRI is a 21st century vision document for CPC which is trying to be attractive for new generation of Chinese most of whom are educated and exposed to rest of the world. Till date the BRI is more of a political venture than economic one. The Chinese officials always talk about American achievement of Internet.

This implies China wanted to do something big which has not been tried before. Since the BRI appears to be a more strategic and political in nature, China has first conducted a survey by hosting the mega event to know who stands where.

Although China got 29 heads of state and 499 delegations from various countries and organizations, it has launched sporadic and smear campaign against India which did not participate at any level of the mega event.

The campaign managers of so-called Chinese media who often blame other media outlets in foreign countries for lack of understanding, was in full flow against India after being inspired by the politburo members.

It has even threatened that India will have little role in future if it decides to join BRI at a later date. Perhaps India should never join such a forum in any point of time which is driven by nationalistic passion and serving the standing of a few elites looking for glory.

The BRI is against India’s national interest and it will only offer a much bigger strategic challenge to India in its neighborhood and elsewhere. The BRI is colored as an economic project but no one knows what is inside it.

Just recently Pakistan had some details about CPEC which is part of BRI. One point in the document says the project will have a national fibre-optic backbone which will be built for Pakistan not only for internet traffic but also for terrestrial distribution of broadcast TV, which will cooperate with Chinese media in the dissemination of Chinese culture.

It is not known whether Pakistanis, who are from Indus-Gangetic culture, currently pursuing a pan-Arabic identity, will look for Chinese culture.
Often Pakistani military delegations which visit China as part of their cooperation complain about non availability of milk tea. The another leaf of BRI impact is Sri Lankan case where the Lankan government had to rework the whole deal as it got into a massive 8 billion USD debt trap.

Now they have shared land and other resources to wriggle out of the project. Now China Metallurgical Group Corporation (MCC) which is into mining and minerals will get into disputed Pakistani territory in PoK.

They are planning to set up 12 marble and granite processing sites in locations ranging from Gilgit and Kohistan in the north, to Khuzdar in the south. This will not only complicate the matter, it may lead to serious friction between China and India.

Although Beijing has been saying that CPEC has nothing to do with sovereignty, what China has done in South China Sea is a classic example. Just months before it was revealed that those 7 islands are being steadily militarized, China had said that it will only exploit the islands for civilian purpose. Later it was justified to have military platforms and equipment. Since it is a Chinese nationalistic project to serve China’s ambition to become a global power or a super power, India has no role in this.