Saturday, November 22, 2014


THE NEW SILK ROAD IS CHINA DREAM AS WELL AS WORLD DREAM BY FRANCIS C W FUNG, PH.D. One cannot emphasize more how important the impact the ancient Silk Road made on human civilization development. It not only facilitated trade and commerce between East and West, and cultural exchange and integration, it was also the road through which the Mongols during the 13th century transported the four most important Chinese ancient inventions to Europe. These are the well-known compass, paper, movable prints and finally dynamite among others. Without compass Columbus could not have set sailed to discover the New World. Without the help of the next three inventions to enable the transmission of information and discovery, European Renaissance could not very well taken off and propagate throughout Europe. Without the enlightenment of human mind through European Renaissance one could hardly imagine how the industrial revolution could have taken place during the 18th century in Europe. Without the industrial revolution that brought steam power and electricity for mass manufacturing U.S. could not have become the manufacturing center of the world during and after the Second World War. Thus to a large extent America became the world’s major power today owes directly and indirectly to the existence of the ancient silk road that allows the transportation of science and technology from the East to the West to facilitate the European Renaissance and the European industrial revolution. America jumped started to become a developed nation and benefitted by inheriting all her early technology from European industrial revolution. The new silk road in the spirit of the ancient silk road as proposed by China recently consists of “One belt and one road” or the “belt and road” proposal in short. “One belt” refers to the Silk Road economic belt, which Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed during his visit to Kazakhstan last September, and “One Road” stands for the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” which he proposed in Indonesia last October. With one route extends from China to central and western parts of Eurasia and the other from China to the Pacific and Indian oceans. According to Zhou Li, Vice-minister of the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, in a paper titled “New Silk Road spreads benefit to all”, I quote “President Xi Jinping's proposal to build a new Silk Road Economic Belt is in line with the trend of economic globalization, leading to a truly multipolar world and "information revolution". The project envisages China cooperating with Eurasian countries to build a stable, peaceful and developed region. If the Silk Road plan's aims are achieved, it could well be the project of the century.” “The Silk Road Economic Belt will help overcome the aftershocks of the global financial crisis and make global governance more efficient. The world economy has not yet recovered from the global financial crisis which started in the United States in 2008 and which exposed the institutional weaknesses of the global governance system. Emerging market economies have a strong need to make the global governance system fairer and more representative, especially because it is becoming increasingly difficult to coordinate the interests of the developed and developing countries under the current system.” “No country can develop in isolation. Regional development and governance, based on cooperation and negotiation, can better solve the external risks. In this context, the Silk Road Economic Belt will ensure that civilizational diversity is respected, multilateralism promoted, and extremism and trade protectionism are excluded. Since the economic belt covers Eurasia, it can deepen mutual respect, dependence and win-win cooperation in the region. This is China's plan to tackle the severe aftermath of the global financial crises, as well as translate the harmonious co-existence concept into reality.” “The Silk Road Economic Belt conforms to China's peaceful development, and cooperative and win-win diplomatic concepts. China will always respect other nations' and peoples' freedom to choose their own development path, and devise their own external and internal policies, because it is not interested in seeking dominance or creating its own sphere of influence in any region, or intervening in other countries' internal affairs.” China's unswerving adherence to a peaceful development path will be reflected in the development of the Silk Road Economic Belt. In time, I hope through the Silk Road development the idea of “Harmony Renaissance” (see Francis C W Fung’s papers on harmony Renaissance) will spread from China to the rest of the world. Building the economic belt is a task for all the countries along the ancient Silk Road because this is a project of mutual benefit, with no threat of discrimination. The spirit of Harmony Renaissance thus can be nurtured. China's vision is to see the Silk Road Economic Belt improving inter-connectivity in the region with favorable policies, better roads, stronger trade, and more exchanges of culture and peoples. Zhou Li continues in his article “China has already worked out three networks for deepened cooperation with countries of the region: China-Central Asia-West Asia, China-Trans-Caucasus-Europe and China-Mongolia-Russia. Toward this end, it is actively cooperating with the countries in infrastructure construction, for example, of railways, roads, harbors, airports and telecom networks. These projects will facilitate transportation, trade and people-to-people exchanges in the fields of education, sports, tourism, science and technology, and media.” “China has signed agreements with some East European countries to help them improve their infrastructure, and earmarked $10 billion as special loans for the projects. Also, China, Russia and Mongolia have agreed to a trans-Eurasia railway that will pass through the three countries, and China and Germany have reached a series of agreements to promote land trade and building the Silk Road Economic Belt.” “Moreover, the Silk Road Economic Belt can promote the development of other regional cooperative organizations because it is an open platform, and does not conflict with the functions of the European Union, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Free Trade Area of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Eurasian Economic Union.” Zhou Li concluded by saying “Given the benefits that the Silk Road Economic Belt will create, China hopes to strengthen communication, enhance mutual trust and remove misgivings with other countries to make the plan a world success like the ancient silk road.” In another article by the Director of the China Institute of World Political Studies, titled “China Belt and Road Initiative” the author claims that “ China considers the policy as the embodiment of its concepts of "community of shared destiny" and "amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness", as well as concrete measures to push forward its "going global" policy. The Party and governments at all levels have placed considerable emphasis on the Silk Road plans. Industrial and financial sectors are using them to create opportunities. New and traditional media outlets are dedicating special columns to them. Civil institutions and non-governmental organizations are working on various exchange programs to make them a success. Think tanks, colleges, and consultancy firms are organizing forums and symposiums to contribute their share of knowledge to the plans. A fresh round of “Dunhuang craze” and “Maritime Silk Road craze” is on the rise in literary and art circles. Think tanks, colleges, and consulting companies are convening all kinds of forums and symposiums to contribute wisdom.” “In contrast, the US administration, leaders, academics and media have shown little interest in the plans, although some American scholars have likened them to a mirage, because their goals are too ambitious, their contents numerous and jumbled.” “The "Belt and Road Initiatives" are open propositions for economic cooperation; they are meant to help the region's common development. But some American observers have said they are China's macro-strategy wrapped in the disguise of the "Silk Road", which could be used to challenge, even transform, the regional and world orders. They see the "belt-road" policy, BRICS Bank, Shanghai Cooperation Organization Bank, and Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank as attempts to create a new regime and challenge US hegemony. Such misunderstandings can be removed only if China and the US communicate over the proposals, narrow their differences, and use the "belt-road" policy to facilitate a new type of major country relationship which will benefit both countries and the world.” In response to America’s misgiving, as I mentioned at the very beginning, that global interconnectivity is a very important aspect of globalization, which the Silk Road established more than 2,700 years ago. The Silk Road was not only a trade route; it was a major artery of political, cultural and ideological exchanges between East and West as well, which means all countries related to the Silk Road, including America as a benefiter of the industrial revolution are stakeholders in the "Belt and Road Initiatives.” Even former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has also mentioned the idea of a New Silk Road , which reflected the global and open nature of the silk road. Today China has the finance, technology and experience to provide global public goods by strengthening interconnectivity construction, which is also conducive to the US' and world’s development. Since the "Belt and Road Initiatives" are the Chinese version of the global interconnectivity strategy, which can be harmoniously and universally beneficial and inclusive. This is what the US cannot overlook in its short range zero sum mentality. Like the ancient silk road the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road Initiatives, or the Belt and the Road Initiatives, are not simply about trade and economics, but also the interaction and integration of different civilizations. When Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the notion of the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road in Indonesia in October 2013, he mentioned the word "civilization," the core of which is the integration of various civilizations. Along this line in a paper titled “The Belt and the Road and the integration of civilizations”, Peng Bo, researcher from the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, suggested the following outline approach for a smooth implementation of the “Belt and Road” project : “The idea of "civilization" has rich connotations, including culture, politics and economics. These three dimensions can either promote each other or stand in the way of each other. Politics and economics are fairly less profound than culture. We can only grasp the reality only if we handle well the intricate relationship between culture, politics and economy. The smooth implementation of the Belt and the Road Initiatives also requires the mutual interaction and promotion of the three aspects.” “In order to better develop the Belt and the Road, we need to regard the economy and trade as the motivation, politics as the lead, history as the base, culture as the platform, and build mutual trust and cooperate further. Only in this way can we integrate civilizations along the Belt and the Road, forge deep harmony between culture, politics, and economics, and eventually gain a better outcome.” “Why is trade and economy the motivation? Economy is the basis for the development of society, and the benefits brought by economics and trade are palpable and can be seen immediately. Long-term economic cooperation and the trust built after rounds of negotiations will be the basis for building the Belt and the Road. The historical Silk Road, which the new Belt and Road are modeled after, was also built through economic reciprocity.” “Why is politics the lead? Because as the superstructure, politics will impact and react to the economy. Compared to economics and culture, politics is a more proactive and more changeable force. Political negotiations often bring forth opportunities for social development and transition. The Bretton Woods Conference and the APEC conference are both examples.” “Why is culture the platform? Culture is more enduring and profound than economics and politics. The economy often undergoes transformations and witnesses highs and lows. Politics is even more changeable. Western political philosophy believes that there are no permanent friends but only permanent interests between countries. Thus, only by shaping friendship and cooperation along the Belt and the Road on a cultural dimension will the friendship be ever-lasting and form the cornerstone of the stable development of economic and trade relations.” “Why is history the base? Because history always exerts a sustained and profound impact on the current situation. When we tell the countries along the Belt and the Road that we will rebuild the Silk Road, the notion of the Silk Road evoke their historical memories, and convey to them the idea that it is our common cause rather than China's own strategy. The Belt and the Road maintains the common interest of countries and peoples along the road, rather than just the interest of China. It is therefore more likely to touch a chord in the hearts of the citizens involved.” “Therefore in the cause of implementing the strategy of the Belt and the Road, we need to rouse the enthusiasm of the relevant countries, seek common ground while reserving differences on the cultural front, develop the economy together, and build political mutual trust and benefit. Only when we reach out through cultural inclusiveness, motivate through economic development and appeal through political cooperation can we integrate civilizations and achieve more effective results for the world.” Francis C W Fung,Ph.D. Director General World Harmony Organization San Francisco, CA

No comments: