The New Silk Road
This week on Facebook: When I first read about The Great Firewall of China I concluded that it was a model that most States would try to find a way of emulating, the rationale being that it was the first step towards securing the political supremacy of a governing oligarchy under the pretext of a democracy. Now China has launched The New Silk Road¹ (OBOR: One Belt One Road) and notionally democratic governments find themselves not only having to consider a trade war with China, but to seriously consider China’s political model as representative of the future.
It would be a mistake to assume the irony in a single party autocratic socialist State achieving global economic hegemony² through capitalism alone. China’s fiscal policy is about more than monetary profit and while it may include short term economic growth it is largely pointing the way — not only to long term global economic hegemony — but to political hegemony on a global scale. The introduction of the ‘credit score rating’ that I wrote about in The New Slick Road is, to my mind, an initiative to ensure that the Chinese Communist Party remains secure as the only political party in this autocratic socialist State.
It is difficult to predict the outcome of any response to ‘The New Silk Road’ by any democratic nation — particularly the USA³ — nevertheless, as with The Great Firewall of China, I am sure (certainly in Europe) that a self-serving governing elite will quickly learn that the Chinese Communist Party will love them as Big Brother would its siblings:
If the state does not regulate and control everything, chaos ensues. We need more government. More control. More regulation. More oversight. Politicians and bureaucrats need more power. Big Brother Loves You!
The environmental damage caused in the race for global hegemony — and by China in particular — are only alluded to in this post, but read the dystopian lake filled by the world’s tech lust that I included with my post on Inequality & Technology.
Below are two videos, both with a bias towards a ‘Western political view’ of this OBOR initiative, which could also lead to ‘One Belief One Regime’.
A New Silk Road: The Silk Road was established during the Han dynasty, beginning aroundd 130 B.C. Markets and trading posts were strung along a loose skein of thoroughfares that ran from the Greco-Roman metropolis of Antioch, across the Syrian desert, through modern-day Iraq and Iran, to the former Chinese capital of Xian, streamlining the transport of livestock and grain, medicine and science. In 2013, President Xi Jinping announced that the Silk Road would be reborn as the Belt and Road Initiative, the most ambitious infrastructure project the world has ever known—and the most expensive. Its expected cost is more than a trillion dollars. When complete, the Belt and Road will connect, by China’s accounting, sixty-five per cent of the world’s population and thirty per cent of global G.D.P. So far, sixty-eight countries have signed on.
Building the New Silk Road: It remains to be seen if the United States and China will clash over their competing plans for developing energy resources in Central Asia’s Turkmenistan, creating infrastructure in Pakistan, or winning political influence with local governments throughout Asia. Other Asian powers like India and Russia, meanwhile, are seeking to define their own approach to regional integration. While these ambitious projects hold the potential to reshape one of the world’s least integrated areas, all must contend with local rivalries, logistical roadblocks, security risks, and political uncertainty.
China’s new Silk Road conundrum: I noticed Beijing’s connectivity conundrum last year here in Tashkurgan, the last major town before China’s border with Pakistan and a stop along the ancient Silk Road. During a six-hour drive from Kashgar, another historic city in Xinjiang, the roads were impressive. Major bridges and a tunnel were under construction, all of which could help the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the $62 billion collection of energy, transportation and other infrastructure projects that is the Belt and Road’s flagship effort.
Referenced Articles & Books: A book or pdf (usually free), or simply a url that may sometimes link to a download that is also usually free. Sometimes a link to JSTOR is used, this lets you set up a free account allowing you to have 6 (interchangeable) books stored that you can read online.
¹Tales from the new Silk Road (url): Prologue — China calls it the project of the century – a massive roll-out of Chinese-built infrastructure to remake the map of the global economy with China at its heart. Some see this new Silk Road as an opportunity, others as a power grab. I travelled from China to Europe to hear the stories of the people in its path.
²New ‘Silk Road’ could alter global economics (url): There’s no good reason that America should sacrifice its own leadership role in the region to China. A project as vast and complicated as the Silk Road will need US technology, experience, and resources to lower risk, removing political barriers for other allied countries like Japan to join in, while maintaining US influence in Eurasia. The Silk Road could enhance US objectives, and US support could improve the outcome of the project.
³China’s New Silk Road Is a Challenge for Washington (url): For Xi, that’s the rightful position of the world’s most populous nation, boasting its second-biggest economy after that of the USA, China’s recent history has lurched from colonisation to devastating war and then collectivized economic turmoil, poverty and political strife. No longer. Today, Chinese companies own storied European soccer teams, a major Hollywood film studio and New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel. China has the most solar panels, wind turbines, and high-speed rail in the world. When, in January, Xi became the first Chinese leader to address the World Economic Forum in Davos, he presented an image of a confident, globalist, responsible statesman, helping to set international rules of trade and environmental standards.
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