Doublewood: One Belt One Road (OBOR)

One Belt One Road

One Belt One Road (“OBOR”) is the designation of China’s initiative in its foreign relations. It embodies China’s vision that peace in the world is best achieved through cooperative development, economic, social and cultural. Along the various routes that had represented the historical Silk Roads on land (the Belt)and the Maritime Route by sea(the Road), the Chinese will try to create with the local countries the catalysts and drivers of growth and development, namely infrastructure and connectivity. They will apply systems approach to integrate individual projects step-by-step to generate maximum long-term synergy and sustainable growth, and link China with the rest of the world.

Xi Jingping says: One Belt One Road does not belong to China, it belongs to the world. Cooperation based on win-win approach and respect for sovereignty of nations will promote peaceful coexistence, mutual understanding and collective benefits. China’s development has produced available capacity, know-how and resources (including financial)that can be invested and utilized abroad, to generate growth particularly in poorer regions of the world. That will be the best means to promote expansion of global markets and economic opportunities, and overcome the stagnancy since the financial tsunami of 2008.

Conceived by Xi Jingping in 2013,China organized the OBOR leading group domestically in 2014 to build the mechanisms to realize the long-term initiative. The first stage was to sign bilateral MOUs with participating countries to lay out the mid-term and long-term cooperative developmental objectives and mechanisms, in essence setting up governmental partnership frameworks that would facilitate project undertakings. Simultaneously, the leading group established offices to provide what is called “the five facilitations” between governmental groups and businesses, namely, policy communication, resource & installation coordination, trade facilitation,
funding channels creation, people connection. In China, special OBOR Economic Zones were designated so that contracts effected there will be covered under the special policy provisions. By the middle of 2016, over 3,000 contracts were effected involving direct investments in 49 countries totalling over US$ 80 billion (not the latest number). The most common projects at the first stage are roads, rails, ports, energy and communication infrastructures.

OBOR was greeted by the nations of the world with great enthusiasm. Countries in Western and Northern Europe all wanted to be involved and the western terminus of the Belt was extended to Holland, to Norway and, finally, England asked to make Manchester (the origin of the Industrial Revolution)the final stop, with a high-speed link to Scotland (if it does not secede)! Latin American countries insisted they must be made part of it. Africa is already a destination of the sea Road. In any case, the Belt and Road concept is metaphorical, the geographical reference merely highlights the inherent economic synergy, but it is up to people to create results via hard work and practical imagination (cyber-infrastructure, for example, eliminates geographical barriers in e-commerce and makes everyone buying and selling directly from/to everyone else globally a real possibility — that is what Huawei and Jack Ma are working on).

In March, 2015, Britain announced that it will join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank(“AIIB”), an international development financial institution initiated by China that would complement the OBOR endeavours. That brought on an avalanche of developed countries to sign up as founding members, eventually bringing the total to 70 nations and territories.

As the organizing work proceeds, the next big event will take place next month in mid-May, 2017,a global OBOR summit forum in Beijing. Business and governmental representatives from over 100 countries are expected to attend, including at least 28 heads-of-state. By then, China will introduce offices and coordinating mechanisms, and the latest facilitating working procedures and channels, to mark the next stage of progress. It will likely propose the setting up of an international secretariat to coordinate global organization of OBOR activities and clearing-house for resources and information.

At his summit with Donald Trump, Xi Jingping officially invited the United States to join the OBOR initiative. Trump should send a representative to the May forum in Beijing. For the US, becoming a participating nation will potentially offer opportunities and international competitiveness for its businesses and professionals.


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