Shailesh Kumar, National Defence
New Delhi, 06 June 2018
China insists that its One Belt, One Road initiative stretching along three continents will benefit the entire world with $1 trillion in infrastructure improvements. But some countries harbor doubts. The apprehensions are real. The world is wise and not ready for this new-age slavery of China.
Early 2018, first train rumbled down the tracks of a $3.4 billion electric railway connecting landlocked Ethiopia with Djibouti and its access to the Red Sea. The 750 kilometer (466 miles) line is expected to carry up to five million tonnes of goods per year. Around the same time in a different continent, after 18 days and 28,000 kilometers, the first-ever direct China to Britain freight pulled into London. It passed through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France, initially crossing the English Channel.
The two different continents yet unconnected have now been connected. Both trains are a result of Chinese ambitious plan ‘One Belt One Road (OBOR)’. The Chinese locomotive that pulled into London was the latest milestone in China’s ambition to redevelop the old ‘Silk Road’ trade routes from Asia to Europe. The ambition in long term is to connect 60 countries, with two thirds of world population, 55 % of the global GDP and 75% of global energy reserves. It will consist of 900 infrastructure projects, valued at about $1.3 trillion. The vision and actions on jointly building the Silk Road and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Route lures the countries along OBOR routes who may receive benefits from connectivity, free trade, new investment and Chinese technology.
The truth is that China needs OBOR more than other countries along OBOR due to its growing energy requirements and alternative connectivity to Indian Ocean Region (IOR), Europe, Gulf and Middle East. China badly needs development of its 31 provinces in particular Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai on China’s western flank and Yunnan on the southern flank. OBOR is a motivated only to the interest of China to access its energy requirements and seek ready markets for Chinese products.
India apparently has understood the ploy of the Dragon and has not participated in OBOR due to apprehension about CPEC apart from its ambitions to dominate the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), which have direct security implications for the region in general and to India in particular.
It is worth the watch and to let selfish ambitious plans of Middle Kingdom pan out in the South Asia and IOR.
Shailesh Kumar is an independent journalist with over 15 years of experience in crime, political and defence reporting for leading media brands including Star News, India TV and NewsX. He is the founder editor of defence and security news portal and web channel, National Defence.