By Nejat Ismayilov
The start of second Belt and Road Forum (BRF) in Beijing on 26 April shows us the expansion and importance of the project and it also indicates that the project reaches to the global level.
Belt and Road Initiatives (BRI) attracted world states for 6 years and the big steps were made for the implementation of the project during the last 6 years.
The head of states and governments from 37 countries and head of international organizations attended in the forum. The leaders from Azerbaijan, Russia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Austria, Belarus, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Serbia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates and other countries joined this year’s forum.12-panel discussions and other events were held under the theme of “Belt and Road Cooperation: Shaping a Brighter Shared Future.”
While speaking in BRF, President of China Xi Jinping announced that 150 states including many prestigious international organizations support Belt and Road Initiatives. “It indicates that our initiatives cover the whole world” – Xi Jinping told that this is the new phase in the world development. Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan emphasized the importance of BRI for Pakistan during his speech at BRF.
Formation of BRI
“One Belt and One Road” initiation by the leadership of China is a restoration of Silk Way having rich historical roots. BRI is called “One Belt and One Road” until 2016. China thought that the word “one” can make misinterpretation. Chinese strategists worked on to increase the role of China, a huge country in the economic and political scene of the world for a long time. They invented the way of transformation of China as a global power from regional one inspired by Chinese history.
After a long period of time, China decided to utilize its geography which made China an important and prestigious state during history. This is possible by reviving the historical Silk Way. China targets not only to restore Silk Way, but to make this way into international integration and communication centre by modernizing, expanding and attracting the big part of the world to the project.
The initiation was primarily presented to international community verbally by President of China Xi Jinping during the official visit to Kazakhstan in 2013. Chinese leader could convince the elder to the project that how much it is important. While speaking at Nazarbayev University, Jinping emphasized the necessity and prospective of modernization of Silk Way and formation of Economic Belt along Silk Way. It means the world has met with this global project in Kazakhstan, the first time ever.
China leader paid an official visit to Indonesia in 2013. The content of the visits to Kazakhstan and Indonesia was the same. Chinese leader made a historical speech in Indonesian parliament and emphasized the necessity of the formation of “XXI century Sea Silk Way.”
Two words used in these two historical visits made the cornerstone of the Belt and Road project. The phrase of Economic Belt of Silk Way and XXI Century Sea Silk Way was used in the name of the project “Belt and Road”.
The project announced in 2013 planned to be completed in 2049 (100th anniversary of People Republic of China). The project contained 900 sub-projects and the budget worth $890 billion.
Main goal of BRI
The part of BRI starts from China to Kazakhstan, then Mongolia Russia and over Iran to Europe. China plans to construct energy lines, highways, trains and fiber lines over the planned directions. One of the main aims of China is the integration of its undeveloped regions to the global economy.
The target is the join of 69 countries to the project, this means 42 percent of the material resources, 64% of the population, 40% of highways, 75% of the energy resources of world.
The position of BRI – unavoidable state for China
BRI is not the regional project but international scale. Pakistan is an essential strategic ally for China in the project. There is no alternative for BRI’s seaway which vital for the realization of the project apart from the geographical position of Pakistan.
China aims to the realization of seaway of BRI with Pakistan. The strategic importance of Pakistan is determined by being a gate to Hormuz, Umman and Africa. At the same time, existence of border with China increases Pakistan’s importance more. Pakistan is the only state has the entrance to Hormuz on the borders of China.
The only alternative to Pakistan could be India. But, India is not considered a proper partner for China. It has several reasons. First of all, India will tend to rivalry with China more than partnership. It is no secret that the US sees India as a balance to China’s leadership in South Asia. Also, several political problems exist between two states. For example, Dalai Lama and Doklam problem between states.
Although India has similar geographical position but is not a country that China cooperate in BRI like Pakistan. For this, India worried the expansion of the project and Pakistan’s increasing importance. India also concerned the potential economic power of Pakistan and regional influence of it.
Geo-strategic importance of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)
CPEC reflects Pakistan’s importance for China. CPEC can be considered the Pakistani branch of BRI. It is understood as the main locomotive of the project. It is not only a collaboration of two states but a structure for developing the global economy.
CPEC came to the agenda by Pakistani President Nawaz Sharif and Prime Minister of China Li Kegiang in Islamabad, 2013. Sharif expressed its consent to the project while introducing to him. Primal agreement was signed by parties in 2013, June 5. The project officially started in 2015, 20 April. The complementation and the creation of job opportunities for 1.2 million citizens until 2030 are forecasted.
2700 km long roads, railroad, fiber optic cables, energy pipeline and the construction of industrial and economic regions are considered within the project. The project covers the Xinjiang of China and Gwadar port of Pakistan and the pipelines and roads go to Basra.
CPEC is 1+4 model of cooperation. The modernization of Gwadar, infrastructure projects, construction of trade and energy lines from China and Chinese investment are based on 1+4 model.
Cornerstone of Gwadar project
Gwadar port holds the strategically important position. This port has the entrance to Hormuz and Babul-Mandap. the port is considered the heart of the project. It has critical significance for China’s Middle East project.
Generally, after the completion of CPEC, Chinese integration towards South Asia, the Middle East and Central Asia will be increased by a huge scale.
It is not coincidental that China makes billions worth investment on the realization of CPEC. 85% of energy import of China is provided via the Strait of Malacca. After the completion of the project, the dependence of China on the Strait of Malacca and new opportunities will be obtained. China will also get new opportunities to integrate Western economic processes. Apart from this, the length of the way of energy import will be diminished to 2414 km from 12070 km.
The total value of CPEC is $47.96 billion. The $34.18 billion is for natural energy and $4.18 billion for transport and $8.21 billion for railroads and $48 million for the modernization of Gwadar port. Currently, the total budget of CPEC reaches to $62-63 billion. Experts forecast the value of the project will reach to $100 billion.