Ambassador |Mohamed Noman Galal

 

The initiative of the “The Belt and the Road” launched by president Xi Jinping has multiple dimensions: economic, social, cultural, political, and civilizational. All these dimensions will respond to the needs of modern China in the twenty- first century and its guiding concepts in international relations which are: peace, security and cooperation. Analysis of these three basic concepts indicates clearly two baselines in the Chinese philosophy. The first is that China and the world could live together, coexist together and work together. The second is that China and the world as they complement each other they should care for each other and thus paying a proper attention to the human common destiny in various field of environment, natural resources, human resources and human wellbeing.

The objective of the paper is to highlight as much as possible the concept and the motives behind the Chinese initiative, which intends to achieve a comprehensive development of China along with the neighboring countries. In light of the breadth of the concept it will include various regions of the world, i.e. Asia, Europe and Africa as well. The initiative is also aiming at generating, at the same time, a driving force for maintaining the momentum of economic growth in China in view of the anticipated slow down in the coming years.  Several economic studies suggested new policies to create incentives for growth. Some studies consider this initiative as a tool for invigorating the economic growth. Others consider the initiative within the context of future thinking of Chinese strategy for international relations in the 21st century.

The paper deals with four main topics:

First the background of the initiative

Second Reaction and implication of the project

Third   The impact of the initiatives on common human destiny

Fourth the impact of the initiatives on China Arab/ African Relations

 

For time constraint I will focus on the last part to highlight the impact of initiatives on common human destiny.

The concept of the “Belt with the Road” is an acronym for the initiative launched by President Xi Jinping on the full name “Silk land and maritime Road and their economic Belt ". China has developed, in this regard, several ideas that can be summarized   as follows:

First : that China is the machine of global growth and the driving force of the multiple economic experiences and multifaceted globalization.  This led China to have an increasing role in shaping the international arena. China faces multiple challenges some are old and some are new. China should work to increase awareness of its national identity and common interests to build a harmonious Asia. This initiative seeks to link the past with the present. It includes China and other countries. This is a testimony to the greatness of Chinese history and civilization. China has confidence and pride in its history and cultures. It works for the future within the framework of cooperation .The goal of the “Road and the Belt “is to connect China with, South Asia, central Asia ,West Asia ant to Russia and Europe sub-regions to achieve connectivity and complementarities. This will lead to cooperation between the Asian region overall and Eurasian and Afroeuroasia. The Initiative “The Road and the Belt " will seek to develop the infrastructure with such innovative idea. Thus this will improve the business environment in the countries concerned and in each region at large with no barriers to the flow of production, distribution and development in landlocked countries or remote areas. The initiatives will bridge the gap in its search for common denominators. It will increase exchange between individuals and cultural interaction and dialogue among civilizations.

Second: The joint action related to the initiative “The Belt and the Road “is intended to achieve the needs of Chinese development and cooperation with other countries in the world. Reform and opening-up of China has achieved great success. The problem remains unbalanced development, especially among the Eastern provinces and regions in the Center and West. To solve this dilemma, it is necessary to transfer resources and industries, between different regions, and to give greater opportunities for economic benefits.

 China's development in the past thirty years has been concentrated in the Eastern region, and directed to develop the country. Now it is time to pay attention to the Western regions of the country and also with the neighboring countries to enable China to take advantage of the large market in the Euro- Asian continent.

 The Third plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the CPC Eighteenth Session has taken the right decision to expand and enhance the openness on the border areas to create an economic corridor to the neighboring countries.

This new initiative is the focus and priority of Chinese diplomatic activities, and work for friendly political and economic relations with all countries. It also aims at developing and deepening cultural relations and security with neighboring countries. Thus everyone will live in harmony.

Third: The initiative of the “Belt and Road” will not contradict or compete with existing mechanisms such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, (SCO), or Eurasian Economic Community or ASEAN. China adopts a pragmatic method to strengthen existing mechanisms within the framework of open regionalism adopted by the countries of East Asia. This initiative will not start from scratch but is built on and aiming at strengthening existing mechanisms.

Fourth: This initiative is open to all countries on the land Silk Road and maritime Silk Route in Central Asia, Russia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and East Africa. 

Russia is a neighbor and friend of China, and has close relations with the Euro- Asian continent and Central Asia in particular. The presidents of China and Russia exchanged views on the cooperation between the two countries particularly in private projects on oil and gas pipelines, as well as railway connecting China / Russia. The two leaders highlighted China's contribution to the development of the Russian Far East and Eastern Siberia which could merge with the Belt and the Road. This will be a driving force for the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Russia.

Fifth : The initiative of the “Belt and the Road " is seeking to achieve five links with focusing on cooperation in existing projects to achieve results and  tangible benefits for all . These five links are:

  • Coordination in political commonalities and leaving aside differences. To work to develop plans to achieve regional integration
  • Link the roads to improve the infrastructure of cross-border network in the field of transportation and communications.
  • Connecting business, trade and investment to stimulate the regional economic cooperation.
  • Using local currencies in settling currencies accounts and exchange to enhance financial cooperation and to establish financial institutions for regional development and thus enhancing the ability to lessen risks.
  • Having human interdependence and communication between people is the key to building healthy relations between China and neighboring countries. The dialogue of civilizations promotes understanding and friendship between the people at various levels, especially at the grassroots.

This China Russia cooperation model could be adopted by China with other countries. It is totally different from the traditional colonial model where one currency is used for settlement, or one central bank or one culture and one political model should be adopted. Here one finds the diversity is adopted and the national or regional characteristics are respected. This could be properly called cooperation not domination or hegemony.

The Egypt Chinese relations celebrated this year the 60th.anniversary.Two main visit between the two countries .The first started with president of China XI Jinping to visit Egypt in January 2016.The second will be a new visit by president SISI of Egypt to China in September 2016 upon a special invitation from the Chinese president as a guest of honor to the G20 Summit in china.

Three main points I would like to highlight in this regard as follows

  • The ancient relation between Egypt and china started during the reign of Cleopatra in the Ptolemy dynasty when China sent an envoy to Egypt to start those relations .Alexandria was the capital of Egypt then. The two countries exchanged various items of trade.
  • Egypt supported the initiative of Chinese president Xi Jinping to reactivate the Silk Road under a new name “Road and belt initiative and also the Marine Route initiatives.
  • Egypt invited China to invest in the Suez Canal Region and also to invest in the new administrative Capital of Egypt.

Conclusions

 It is interesting to cast a light on the approach of China in comparison with the Western approach in dealing with the developing countries. The core policies of Western countries are to change other countries and force them to follow their model in economics, politics, social and culture. The Western countries consider their model a universal one. However, the core policies of China and its approach is to help other countries to develop in the way that suits them without interfering or imposing or advocating its own model of development in political, economic, cultural or social fields.

In a nutshell the Chinese approach is to leave other countries to be their own masters, while the Western approach is to force other countries to accept the West as their master. It is a big conceptual gap and practical difference.

This is why one objectively could conclude that the Chinese initiatives on Silk Road and Maritime Route with the belt are for the good of human common destiny.

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About Author |Ambassador Mohamed Noman Galal (PHD).

 Former ambassador of Egypt to China

Former assistant Foreign minister of Egypt for policy Planning

Member of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs

Member of Arab Thought forum (Jordan)

Author of more than  forty five books, latest on "Egyptian Revolution of Jan 25, 2011” , published Sept. 2011 ,  Egyptian Chinese Relations 60th. Anniversary of regional and international considerations  2015, and Egyptian National Identity in a Changing world 2016

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