BRI & changing geopolitics | By Dr Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

GEO-economy has become the “mantra” of every government in the world. Now Chinese “shared prosperity” and the US & West “hegemonic concepts” are competing to sway the hearts and souls of the people.

China’s posture is open, transparent, unconditional, interactive, productive and participatory. Whereas, the US and the West are giving mixed signals pertaining to their obsession of military might, economic superiority, global outreach and so-called democratic philosophies and human rights prophecies but have not yet been borrowed these means of survival to other developing countries.

However, One Belt One Road Initiative (BRI) stands for polling of resources to rescue countries and communities alike from clutches of poverty and ignorance around the world.

BRI vividly reflects superiority of “geo-economy” over “geopolitics”, “productivity” over “propaganda”, “participation” over sponsored “processions”, “positivity” over military “predominance”, velocity of “prosperity” over lack of “prudence” and last but not the least, “green” over “grey” in the world.

Thus BRI upholds the true spirit of “humanity” and “sharing is caring” to the world and especially to all its members. Most recently, inclusion of “Syria” into BRI is a moral victory of China over military oriented plots and conspiratorial schemes of many regional countries and global movers and shakers.

It seems that geo-economy is the new “Bible” of the corporate world in which greater socio-economic integration, regional connectivity and foreign direct investment have become new “apostles” of strength, stability and sustainability.

But unfortunately, “genie” of geopolitics has again come out of the bottle and tried to create chaos, uncertainty, political instability and economic distortion in one of the biggest countries – Kazakhstan. It was totally unexpected in a peace loving country like Kazakhstan.

Violence was rampant and replicated in vicious circles in which the game of ladder and snake played a very important role. But “administrative wisdom” of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev swiftly prevailed and disorder and disobedience was controlled and ultimately crushed.

Economic activities and infrastructural development progress was hostage to external aggression, criminals and rogue elements but visionary leadership of Tokayev succeeded to eradicate this mushroom growth of destruction. BRI was also derailed and delayed.

Now Kazak President Tokayev announced a new prime minister, new cabinet, new sets of socio-economic reforms, security protocols, re-organization and last but not the least, national priorities to move forward.

Thus conspiratorial plots of the West and its sleeping cells have been thrown in the Caspian Sea. Central Asia has been one the key pillars of Chinese foreign policy and, of course, economic cooperation in which BRI is the most important factor for greater socio-economic cooperation, investment, trading partnership, joint ventures, energy cooperation, food security and infrastructural development.

In this connection, the Republic of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan have very close relations with China which has now been further strengthened and consolidated with the eve of BRI in these countries.

Thus true silk spirit is transforming the cities of Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, Almaty, Nur Sultan, Dushanbe, Khujand, Bishkek, Burana and Ashgabat and Türkmenabat through the ongoing mega projects of BRI.

Moreover, TAPI has again gained another new life-line because of the Chinese version of the gas pipeline.

Sudden exit of the US from Afghanistan also opened a new gate of overlapping and complicated power politics in which every country is in search of a lion’s share.

Taliban as usual are still in their past unfilled fantasies of glorification and gratification and seemingly still not ready to show any kind of flexibility on the issues of gender discrimination, minority rights, inclusive government and some kind of democratic orientations to the regional as well as international players.

Even China is still reluctant to recognize interim set-up of Taliban because of having sever reservations on TTP, The Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and other globalized terrorist franchises in Afghanistan.

In this connection, the government of Pakistan has been trying its best to convince the Taliban but somehow could not achieve.

Afghanistan is another country on the BRI list. But due to formal recognition and lack of political stability and economic sustainability the real potential of BRI is still docile. The African continent has been one of the important parts in the foreign policy of China. It has special policy priority inclination towards Africa.

Now Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is visiting Africa to accelerate BRI development in these countries. He visited Eritrea, Kenya and the Comoros from January 4 to 7, 2022 and afterwards he will be visiting the Maldives and Sri Lanka.

During his visit, Morocco agreed to join BRI which is another diplomatic victory of China and greater recognition of its ancient philosophy and XI Jipnng doctrine of shared prosperity.

Almost 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to grid electricity. About a third of people in rural areas have no sealed roads serving their communities.

The continent’s infrastructure needs $130-$170 billion a year, with a financing gap in the range of $68-$108 billion. On its part, China is providing technical skills and funding through the BRI and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, a bilateral platform that has helped bring China and Africa closer together.

Now China is contributing to the development of Africa’s highway infrastructure and opening up of road-based corridors and helping Africa to win the war on poverty eradication through trade promotion and overall economic growth.

According to latest reports, 52 of the 55 members of the African Union are participating in the BRI, which was proposed by China in 2013 as a means of improving connectivity among countries through increased trade, economic integration and cultural exchanges.

The BRI projects have shown resilience in the face of the pandemic and secretive geopolitics.

According to China’s Ministry of Commerce (December 2021) China’s direct investment in Africa reached $2.07 billion from January to July, outperforming the pre-pandemic level in the same period of 2019.

To conclude, BRI projects have bright prospects in Central Asian countries and African continent allowing regional countries to increase connectivity, expand regional trade and modernize their insufficient transport infrastructure. Same is the case of the South East Asia region in which BRI is spreading hope of qualitative life, social harmony and healthy economic prospects and greater regional connectivity.

BRI acts like a “ray of hope” and “rainbow” of cooperation, coordination and consensus starting from mountains of Laos to the Seas of Maladies and sunny beaches of Sri Lanka. That is why Western propaganda could not derail BRI’s “perception” and “projects” in the countries.

BRI is an ambitious global strategy, however unfortunately, it receives much criticism, especially in so-called liberal countries.

Not “geography” but “geopolitics” is one of the main hurdles of BRI success in the world. It does not have any policy in-coordination, investment uncertainty and low transparency and social resistance. It is a “consensual” mega project which always “snubs” conspiratorial schemes of the West.

I suggest that military parades will achieve nothing substantial in the world and Central Asia but real “social transformation” and “economic transmission” would be catalysts for BRI. Thus recipient countries must pursue befitting policies to accelerate socio-economic prosperity.

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