Festivities of China’s 70 Years and the Silk Road Spirit

Festivities of China’s 70 Years

Festivities of China’s 70 Years


the Silk Road Spirit

Saadia Saif Niazi

October 1st, 2019 has a significant historical significance for the People’s Republic of China as this is the day China is celebrating the 70th Chinese National Day. On this day, the Chinese people will rejoice the declaration of victory in war against the Nationalist forces of Chiang Kai-shek along with beginning of the relationship of the Chinese government with other states of the world, since 1949.

This year the festivities of the National Day will be little different from those in past because of an important development in China­­ – the successful five years of its revolutionary idea of connectivity ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ (BRI) under the phenomenon of Silk Road Spirit. For the first time in its history, China has set eyes on globalization. China’s plans include connecting the West as well as its own secluded provinces with the others regional states through this initiative. The BRI was propagated by Chinese president Xi Jinping in 2013, during his visit to Central and Southeast Asia in September and October of 2013, where he raised the initiative with the forename of “The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road.”

BRI aims for a green, smart and connected world, creating a green BRI connecting infrastructural facilities, mutual benefits and complementary gains

china-pakistan-sign-host-of-deals-under-cpec-during-pm-imran-khans-visitAs articulated by Bruno Macaes in his recent book, ‘Belt and Road: A Chinese World Order’, “BRI resembles the Western novel where all disciplines, all sciences, and all corners of human activity are deliberately included.”

Relating the BRI with history, it is a journey of thousands of miles and years. The ancient silk routes of China embody the spirit of “peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefits.” Nowadays, the same spirit is part of Chinese idea of “Connectivity,” propagated through its ideal BRI.

For the new connections and linkages with the world, Beijing has initiated six main economic corridors under BRI, namely:

(i) Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor (BCIMEC);

(ii) China-Indo-China Peninsula Economic Corridor (CICPEC);

(iii)  China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor (CMREC);

(iv) China-Central and West Asia Economic Corridor (CCWAEC);

(v) New Eurasian Land Bridge (NELB); and

(vi) China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

These corridors are based on futuristic economic relationship among China’s neighbours and even beyond. It is now an upgraded version that emphasizes the mega-scale connectivity through vibrant corridors of roads, railways and maritime linkages. This forms the vital portion of the Old Silk Road.

The ‘Silk Road Spirit’ is having a deep and muscular bond with the phenomenon of connectivity between different civilizations of the world like the glorious days of Old Silk Road. The Old Silk Road was not just a road but it was a cradle of great heritage of human civilizations belonging from different vibrant regions such as South (Indus valley civilization: currently Pakistan), Central and Middle East region till Roman Empire (Mediterranean Sea).

The current working of BRI is all about establishing economic, political and cultural relations with old civilizations. One of the greatest Asian civilizations is Indus Valley and Pakistan is an integral part of it. The Chinese investment of more than $60 billion under BRI on one of its flagship projects, i.e. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is very consequential in this regard. The billion-tree tsunami project in Pakistan is also the part of CPEC. It’s all due to China’s investment-friendly philosophy that this came as the privileged bounty for Pakistan due to the ‘Silk Road Spirit’, latter’s geostrategic location and time-tested Pak-China friendship. It is one corridor with multiple passages which comprises 3Cs – Connectivity, Corridor linkages and Cultural relationships – which are important aspects of cooperative priorities of BRI.

CPEC, a flagship project of BRI, had added a new chapter in Pak-China friendship. The friendship between the two peoples has a long, enduring history. The late Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai once stated: “The peoples of China and Pakistan have been good neighbours and friends since their independence.”

Chinese cooperation with Pakistan under CPEC follows what China refers to as a 1+5 model, where 1 represents the CPEC initiative and 5 represents the pillars that support it: Gwadar port, energy, infrastructure, industrial collaboration and socio-economic development. In the medium to long term, both sides will explore and expand the cooperation in fields such as financial services, science and technology, tourism, education, poverty-elimination and city planning.

CPEC is the culmination of major investment of China in Pakistan as the latter has tantalizing opportunities for investment in trade, marketing, business and banking sector, as well as a sizeable market for common goods. Connectivity of regional states with Pakistan could unfold immense opportunities in trade, business, infrastructure, transportation and emerging markets for China as well as Russia.

CPEC, on the other hand, would also present an obvious opportunity for Gulf countries owing to Gwadar’s proximity to the Persian Gulf.  At the same time, another important project China-Central-West Asia Economic Corridor (CCWAEC) with CPEC has important strategic implications for the Gulf region.

As the Silk Road spirit has become a great heritage of human civilization; therefore, it’s worth celebrating. Sino-Pak friendship is well known to all political forums. The CPEC is the best example of it. As the 21st century has been marked by the theme of peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit under Silk Road Spirit, all the celebrations of this friendship will be doubled after the successful implementation of half of the CPEC projects in Pakistan.

D5FLjutWAAEP-uhIn the beginning of 2019, Islamabad and Beijing decided, “to celebrate Pakistan-China Year of Friendship/Sister Cities in 2019 and to establish friendship city relationships between corresponding Chinese and Pakistani cities and provinces” in consonance with the Silk Road Spirit. The time has proved that the friendship between Pakistan and China withstands all tests of times, notwithstanding the changes in domestic, regional and international environments.

Conclusively, the Silk Road Spirit has paved the way for China and Pakistan to strengthen their cordial relationship as neighbours. No matter what the conditions are, both the countries overcome all challenges, and carry forward the traditional friendship more deeply. Under the CPEC, Beijing and Pakistan must foster track II contacts for further strengthening Sino-Pak partnership for building a harmonious world with opportunities of enduring peace, development and prosperity.

The writer is a lecturer at Department of International Relations, Faculty of Social Sciences, National University of Modern Languages NUML, Islamabad.

Email: ssniazi@numl.edu.pk

What Is an Economic Corridor?

An economic corridor is a geographically-targeted development initiative. It is a route along which people and goods move, and the efficiency of this movement stimulates economic growth. The concept gained popularity in the late 1990s through an Asian Development Bank (ADB) project to develop the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) in Southeast Asia. There is no single picture of an economic corridor. A corridor can be national, such as India’s East Coast Economic Corridor, regional like the GMS, or international, such as China’s New Eurasian Land Bridge, which extends across Eurasia. Corridors can also focus on either maritime or overland connections. While China’s much-publicized CPEC and New Eurasian Land Bridge focus on land linkages, Japan and India’s Asia-Africa Growth Corridor aims to develop new shipping routes between Africa and Southeast Asia.

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