Chinese President Xi Jinping has made an announcement to China’s “Belt and Road initiative”, which is the most ambitious development project that would extensively widen the international influences of China in a quest for new imperialist practices. It is obvious that China perceives this multi-billion dollar project is to serve a greater cause by implementing a new modern day version of Silk Road as a direct response to China’s clear determination for its commitment in globalization.
The project itself is surely a manifestation of China’s willingness to rebuild the glory of the ancient Silk Road which shows that geographical dispersion is not insurmountable. However, as Xi took to the stage his signature foreign policy initiative faced a backlash with India launching a scathing attack on the $900 billion Chinese plan and announcing it would boycott proceedings. Looking upon the large scale of the project and China’s sophisticated attempt to politically intervene in helping less developing countries with benevolence and concordant manner is believed to be the scheme was “little more than a colonial enterprise that would leave debt and broken communities in its wake.
Despite the immense load of applause and expression of admiration towards this what is presumably an ambitiously challenging thrive of building new colonial power, China’s vision of constructing the New Silk Road is perhaps completely different and beyond economic reason that is supposedly established for mutually international collaboration. It is reluctant to confirm that China’s visionary of globalization has surpassed the United States to become what might possibly a new hegemonic superpower replacing the U.S from the position of global leadership. China hopefully wishes the New Silk Road development would unleash new economic forces that could revitalize the current conditions of theglobal economy and stimulate the global growth. This new platform would susceptibly manifest a new linkage that could connect states transnationally and internationally to rebalance economic globalization.
Xi pledged $124 billion for the new “Silk Road”, which aims to bolster China’s global leadership ambitions by building infrastructure and trade links between Asia, Africa, Europe and beyond. It is undeniably inevitable that Western diplomats would express unease about the initiative, uncomfortable feelings of seeing it as an attempt to promote Chinese influence globally. They are also greatly concerned about transparency and access for foreign companies. Although the financial resources to pour into this costly extravaganza project is immensely high, but this development can be potentially successful if there is consistency in internationalist collaboration, as well as transparency in information sharing encirclement and mutual trust that needs to be poignantly demonstrated among one another.
It is not the first bold and risky movement politically motivated by Beijing’s hunger of power, China’s enormous financial resource is supporting for the construction of power plants in Pakistan to address chronic electricity shortages, part of an expected $46 billion worth of investment. Chinese planners are mapping out train lines from Budapest to Belgrade, Serbia, providing another artery for Chinese goods flowing into Europe through a Chinese-owned port in Greece. The massive infrastructure projects, along with hundreds of others across Asia, Africa and Europe, form the backbone of China’s ambitious economic and geopolitical agenda. President Xi Jinping of China is literally and figuratively forging ties, creating new markets for the country’s construction companies and exporting its model of state-led development in a quest to create deep economic connections and strong diplomatic relationships.
The initiative, called “One Belt, One Road,” looms on a scope and scale with little precedent in modern history, promising more than $1 trillion in infrastructure and spanning more than 60 countries. Xi objectively uses China’s wealth and industrial capabilities to create a new kind of globalization that will dispense with the rules of the steadily aging Western-dominated institutions. The primary objective is to reinstitutionalize the global economic order with China’s fashionable system, drawing countries and companies more tightly into China’s orbit. This project also illustrates Xi’s intellectually well-executed political powers to capture this opportunity to gradually expand China’s global influences on every aspect. This also suggest that sooner or later, China would replace the U.S in what we always thought, the indispensable position in global leadership and the U.S hegemony would no longer be called irrepressible and irreplaceable. In terms of economic reason, the projects inherently serve China’s economic interests with missionary duties to look for new exploitation opportunities, preventing the energy exhaustion in home country. With growth slowing at home, China is producing more steel, cement and machinery than the country needs to sustain. To response to this issue, Xi is looking to the rest of the world, particularly developing countries, to keep its economic engine going.
Xi obviously believes this is a long-term plan that will involve the current and future generations to propel Chinese and global economic growth. This can be considerably a new upgrade for the current globalization. Xi is undeniably presenting a more audacious version of the Marshall Plan, the U.S postwar reconstruction effort back in post-World War 2. Back then, the United States extended vast amounts of economic aid to secure alliances in Europe by providing financial support to revitalize the series of state economic powers and also restore the autonomy of sovereignty. China is deploying hundreds of billions of dollars of state-backed loans in the hope of winning new friends around the world, this time without requiring military obligations.
By looking back at history, Communist China in 1949 held that there was no middle ground between alignment with the U.S or neither Soviet Union. Beijing had recognized the possibility and legitimacy of engaging nonalignment. The decision of approaching to nonalignment states was largely preoccupied by identification of Communist China with underdeveloped countries under nationalist leadership, while struggling with the ramification of imperialism. During that specific historical period, the United States was highly regarded as the visible representation of imperialism, an imperialist leader with unprecedented ambitions that underdeveloped countries had struggled with. This led the Communist China to guide nonalignment states to isolate them from the United States, rather than towards the Communist sphere of influence. On the other hand, Soviet Union was also perceived by Communist China as they shared common characteristic with the U.S, which was alignment with American imperialism. This problematic issue eventually resulted the Communist China to urge underdeveloped states to follow self-reliance policy since it was dangerous to receive any form of assistance from these two global superpowers.
Within Asia, a regional transition of power is taking place, driven by the rise of China particularly. In earlier decades, China existed for the most part outside the “old order” and it once was the empire in East Asia with such ubiquity of rich history dated back from the ancient time. With rapid growth and transforming patterns of regional trade, China is now very much within it. The regional power transition can be seen as a double shift. The region is becoming increasingly interconnected through trade, investment, and multilateral agreements. And, under the shadow of the rise of Chinese economic and military capabilities, the region is taking on a more explicit balance of power dynamic. The region is simultaneously experiencing growth in multilateral trade and cooperation and new signs of great power competition. Out of these changes, East Asia is increasingly marked by the emergence of two hierarchies. One is a security hierarchy dominantly controlled by the United States, and the other is an economic hierarchy dominated by China. Countries in the region are relying on the United States to provide security. The American-led alliance system has been playing this critically important role of policing this region for decades. Allies across the region continue to rely on this alliance system for security, and for many countries, these security ties are deepening. At the same time, most of the countries in the region are increasingly tied to China for trade and investment. Over the last decade, countries that previously had the United States as their major trade partner — countries such as Japan, South Korea, Australia, and the Philippines — now have China as their leading trade partner. The United States is still an important market and leader of the world economy, but China is the economic epitome of Asia and it will be more so in the upcoming future.
Hence, the problematic anomaly that is current exhibited among the middle states is which side to choose, the middle states of the region have reason to want this dual hierarchy to persist. They will not want to make a choice between the United States and China. On the other hand, they will simultaneously want to receive the security benefits of allying with the United States and the economic benefits of trading with China. At the same time, they will worry about the credibility of America’s security commitment, and they will worry about the possibility that China will use its growing economic position to dominate the region. In effect, they will worry about both their security and economic dependency. This issue escalates the intensity of competition between the United States and China over the expansion and maintenance of political influences by this dual existing hierarchies and they book seek for mutual trust and loyalty among these middle states. The United States has its profoundly majestic extended security system as an asset, and China has its trade and investment assets. Each state will seek to offer the region its hegemonic services. Each state also has instrumental tools with which to apply political pressure. But there are costs and unwelcome consequences if the United States and China attempt to use, respectively, their security and economic leverage. In the end, it will be the middle states that have the ability to shift the regional order in one direction or the other, or to make selective choices to rationally preserve the double hierarchy. Both the presence and absence of the United States and China relatively constitute the imbalance of geopolitics that perpetually open up a potential security conflict stimulated by antagonistic attitudes between states over territorial disputes and sovereignty, as well as the profanity triggered by refusal for economic collaboration and integration, a restrictively limited regional market and inordinate economic transparency. It is, however, difficult to predict the unforeseen circumstances that could break out in East Asia over the interplay of competition for hegemonic powers between the U.S and China, especially which side will overcome and win the many hearts of middle states.
Under any circumstances, the friction of maintaining hegemonic powers in Asia, particularly East Asia at first, will certainly requires the United States to have incentives, to remain a security provider in the region. But its allies will not want to engage in full-scale balancing against China. Once again, they will not want to be forced to choose between the United States and China. So the United States will be inclined, if it can, to pursue a “not too hot and not too cold” strategies. It will not want to be too aggressive toward China, seeking to contain and isolate China, which would force the middle states to pick sides. Nor will it want to be too soft and accommodating toward China, which would undercut the role and credibility of the U.S-led security system. China, in turn, has an incentive not to trigger a backlash against its growing power, so it will have incentives to signal restraint and accommodation. China, on the other hand, faces a problem of “self-encirclement.” It has to find ways to rise peacefully without galvanizing a counterbalancing response that could potentially. Over the last half century, order in East Asia has been maintained through American hegemonic leadership since post World War 2. The United States has presided over the regional order as its most powerful state, an order that, at least until recently, has been organized around American-led economic and security hierarchical relationships. With the rise of China, the regional order has begun to exhibit the balance of power logic. There is a growing mixture of hegemony and balance within the region.