The demonising of China’s BRI continues, but many start to see its potential benefits

China appreciates Pakistan’s support promoting BRI: Chinese vice premier
· National
BEIJING: Chinese Vice Premier, Zhang Gaoli appreciated Pakistan’s efforts in actively supporting the BRI through China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) while reiterating that China would continue to support Pakistan building infrastructure network, improving the livelihood of its people under the framework of Belt and Road initiative (BRI). Addressing media-persons from 126 countries who had gathered here to attend the 2017 Media Cooperation Forum arranged by the People’s Daily, he said that the BRI is the Chinese solution to overcome poverty and socio-economic disparities at the international level. China has taken the responsibility of serving the cause of entire humanity, through the policy of shared destiny. He said they are committed to putting the words into actions and deeds, enabling BRI countries to reap its fruits through win-win situation across the globe for more, go to 

The demonising of China’s BRI continues, but many start to see its potential benefits

KUALA LUMPUR (March 2018): The US, has to a certain extent, succeeded in demonising China’s multi-trillion Belt Road Initiative (BRI).

However, the demonising will not last as at least 68 countries have inked deals with China to develop BRI for trans border trade and mutual economic benefits.

The European countries are still with the US, as far as BRI is concerned. But Asian and Scandinavian countries are already seeing BRI’s regional trade and economic benefits.

For one, Pakistan is beginning to experience a surge in business activities by turning its North-South Transport Corridor into One Belt–One Road (BRI).

The corridor serves to expand shipping and road links between South Asia, Northern Eurasia and Europe.

The following are two contrasting news on the BRI for obvious reasons, particularly the US agenda against China:

"The growing backlash to Chinese power

As China presses ahead with its controversial Belt and Road initiative, international attitudes towards the country harden

by Shashank Joshi / February 13, 2018

Theresa May with Chinese President Xi Jinping during her recent trip to Beijing. Photo: Liu Weibing/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Theresa May returned from her January trip to Beijing on a sour note. Her visit is part of a larger pattern of hardening European attitudes towards China’s economic and geopolitical ambitions.

Officials in the UK and China have spent recent years heralding a supposed “golden age.” In March 2015, George Osborne and David Cameron took the surprise decision to make the UK a founding member of the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), prompting an apoplectic response from American officials. A lavish state visit to the UK by Xi Jinping followed later that year.

But the tide is now turning. Theresa May marked her first month in office by delaying plans for a Chinese-built power plant at Hinkley Point C. She allowed the deal to pass a few months later, but only after making it clear that she did not trust China to wield influence over British energy supplies. Now, during her recent trip to Beijing, she seems to have drawn another line in the sand, refusing to formally endorse China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a $4trn collection of connectivity and infrastructure projects stretching from Asia to Europe. The scheme, announced in 2013, touches every aspect of Chinese foreign policy and was even written into the Communist Party’s constitution in October.

With May’s government teetering on the edge and the UK confronting a future adrift from its major trading partners, this was a brave decision. Chinese officials, hoping that May would become the first G7 head of state to endorse their flagship project, unsubtly turned the screws—according to one report, even refusing to return British diplomats’ phone calls. But the prime minister stood firm. She kept open the possibility of cooperation, but demanded that BRI meet “international standards,” implying it doesn’t do so at present. Cameron will have taken particular notice: in December, he accepted a role as head of a $1bn UK-China investment fund backed by both governments.

Theresa May’s cautious approach is likely to have been informed by wider international shifts. When China held the (unfortunately named) Belt and Road Forum (BARF) last May, it attracted a glittering cast of visitors, including 29 world leaders, the heads of the United Nations, World Bank and International Monetary Fund, and even a senior official from the Trump administration. India was the most notable absentee, giving a stinging public rebuke to the project, whose Pakistani leg cuts through Indian-claimed territory in Kashmir.

But soon, the United States and Japan began echoing Indian concerns in ever-more forthright language: BRI was saddling small countries with unsustainable debt, benefiting Chinese companies rather than those in smaller states, and masking political and military ambitions rather than simply economic ones. In October, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson revealed that the US and its Asian partners had begun a “quiet conversation” on developing new financing mechanisms that might give smaller states alternatives to Chinese capital. (Japan and India have already begun collaborating on such efforts, such as a $200bn Africa-Asia Growth Corridor). His counterpart at the Pentagon, James Mattis, launched a separate attack. “In a globalized world, there are many belts and many roads, and no one nation should put itself into a position of dictating ‘One Belt, One Road,’” said Mattis, referring to an alternative name for the BRI.

“Theresa May’s wariness of BRI reflects a growing consensus amongst liberal states”

Then, Europeans found their voice too. BRI “isn’t merely a historic trade-related reminder of Marco Polo, but at the end of the day a geostrategic concept which China is using to enforce its own ideas of order,” cautioned German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel in December—adding, forebodingly, “ultimately maybe also militarily.”

French president Emmanuel Macron was even more candid, warning during his January trip to Beijing that the roads of the BRI “cannot be those of a new hegemony, which would transform those that they cross into vassals.” Macron also alluded to China’s unfair trade practices, which encourage Chinese forays into Western markets, often in strategic and sensitive sectors, while imposing draconian restrictions on foreign firms in China. “If they are roads,” said Macron, “they cannot be one-way.” Here was the arch-centrist appropriating the language of the populists, declaring that China had rigged the system. It would have been difficult to imagine French and German leaders speaking in these terms a few years ago.

The past year has seen a swaggering China, buoyed by Xi Jinping’s extraordinary consolidation of power as well as unforced errors by the US in areas such as trade, climate change, and the handling of alliances. But this swagger has also provoked a growing backlash to Chinese power.

In Australia, concerns over China’s covert influence operations have sparked a national debate and even led to new laws. In November, the United States, Australia, Japan, and India re-activated an old forum, the “Quad,” united by their concern over Beijing’s behaviour. European diplomats are increasingly open about their uneasiness with China’s growing influence in places like Hungary and Greece, which has already led to the dilution of EU statements on China’s behaviour in the South China Sea.

Theresa May’s wariness of BRI reflects a growing consensus amongst liberal states, within and beyond the west, that China’s economic and political ambitions can no longer be easily separated, and that the strategic consequences of trade and investment need closer attention. Had the prime minister broken ranks, this would not only have driven a wedge through the transatlantic relationship, but would also have raised eyebrows in Paris and Berlin—at exactly the time that the UK is seeking to persuade Europeans that it will remain a key partner on strategic issues. - Prospect


Pakistan Takes Wind out of India’s Sails by Turning North-South Transport Corridor Into One Belt–One Road

Written by Adam Garrie on 1st March 2018

The North-South Transport Corridor is a joint initiative of nations who have built and continue to expand shipping and road links between South Asia, Northern Eurasia and Europe. The map below shows the basic route which beings with a shipping lane between India and Iran’s Chabahar Port on the Gulf of Oman, before travelling north through Iran to the Caucasus and into Russia, while also linking up with existing rail routes from Iran into Central Asia and west into Europe via Turkey.

While countries as diverse as Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan have embraced the North-South Corridor as a means of creating greater opportunities for economic enrichment through joint cooperative efforts, in India, the project has been sold as a rival to China’a One Belt–One Road. This has been the case even though the North-South Corridor is vastly more limited in its geographical expanse vis-a-vis the global Chinese project and perhaps even more crucially, the other partners in the North-South Transport Corridor do not share India’s zero-sum vision of the project.

In particular, India is keen to present the North-South Transport Corridor as a rival to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor linking China to the Indian ocean via a large road and rail network whose western terminus is Pakistan’s Gwadar port.

Today however, Pakistan, one of India’s two neighbouring ‘rivals’ has issued a statement saying that Islamabad looks forward to integrating its own transport links into the North-South Transport Corridor. According to Saeed Khan Mohmand, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Azerbaijan,

“I think that Pakistan may plan to join the North-South transport corridor. Of course, it should be negotiated… The proposal has come from Azerbaijan and sent to different ministries. Now they are currently working on it”.

While the statement from the Ambassador does not confirm any finite plans, it does demonstrate an attitude from Pakistan that looks to embrace mutually beneficial regional and trans-regional projects in a way that has thus far escaped Indian policy makers and official representatives who continue to view the prospect of rival trade systems as strategically superior to mutually cooperative ones. The notion of Pakistani cooperation in the North-South Transport Corridor further strengthens Pakistan’s undeniably growing partnership with Russia which has occurred simultaneously to India pivoting away from its Cold War ally and towards the US. That being said, while Russia harbours no official ill-will towards India, Russia has come to terms with the changing political dynamics of South Asia and is clearly pivoting its own strategic outlook accordingly.

Such a scenario for Pakistan linking up with the North-South Transport Corridor and Russia more widely, was proposed last year by geopolitical expert Andrew Korybko in a piece called ‘The Next People-To-People Phase Of The Russian-Pakistani Rapprochement’. In the piece, Korybko writes,

“The enhanced trade relations that were mentioned above [see full piece] can only occur if Russia and Pakistan are connected to one another through CPEC, no matter how indirectly due to the geographic distance between them and Moscow’s reluctance to officially endorse this trade route in order to preserve its strategic “balancing act” with India. The second part of this conditional implies that the private sector needs to drive these two countries’ CPEC connectivity since the Russian state isn’t going to do so because of delicate political reasons, which thus allows one to envision three possible solutions, all of which are inclusive of one another and could in theory exist concurrently.

The most probable of the three is that Russia could connect to CPEC via the Central Asian state of Kazakhstan, which his already a member of the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union and through which a lot of bilateral trade already traverses. Furthermore, the Eurasian Land Bridge between East Asia and Western Europe is expected to pass through this international corridor as well, so it’ll probably be easiest for Russia and Pakistan to trade across this route by linking up at CPEC’s Urumqi hub in China’s Autonomous Region of Xinjiang.

Considering that Xinjiang’s capital city is located closer to Russia’s southern Siberian border than to CPEC’s terminal Arabian Sea port of Gwadar, there’s also the chance that a more direct north-south trade route could be established between Russia and Pakistan via this avenue. After all, Russia’s “Pivot to Asia” (which is officially referred to as “rebalancing” in Moscow’s political parlance) isn’t just international but also internal, and it aspires to develop resource-rich Siberia just as much as it aims to chart new international partnerships. With this in mind, there’s no reason why southern Siberia couldn’t one day be connected to CPEC via the nearby Urumqi juncture.

Lastly, Russia’s already building a North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) through Azerbaijan and Iran in order to facilitate trade with India, so the opportunity exists for it to simply use this route’s overland transport infrastructure to reach Pakistan in the event that the Iranian terminal port of Chabahar is ultimately linked with nearby Gwadar. Even if that doesn’t happen, then there’s still nothing preventing private Russian businessman from using Chabahar or even the more developed port of Bandar Abbas as their base of operations for conducting maritime trade with Gwadar or Karachi. This would in effect make India’s “brainchild” the ironic basis for Russian-Pakistani economic relations”.

With both Russia and Pakistan expanding their relations with Azerbaijan, it was clearly important that this announcement from Pakistan was delivered by Islamabad’s ambassador to Baku. There exists the potential for Pakistani cooperation within the framework of both the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the North-South Transport Corridor, to bring Pakistan and Iran closer to one another, at a time when officials from both states have shown a sincere interest in revitalising an old friendship that had soured in recent decades, in spite of some cautious voices on both sides.

If Iran could become a southern gateway to the Caucasus while neighbouring Pakistan could become a parallel southern gateway to Central Asia, both countries could realistically see themselves as important routes in both the Pacific, Indian Ocean and Mediterranean trade into Russia and north eastern Europe via various transport corridors coming from the west and the east. Such a reality would also put to rest the Indian narrative that Iran’s Chabahar Port is necessarily a competitor to the deep water Gwadar Port. In reality, both ports could and should act in tandem within a commonly linked trade network. Linking the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the North-South Transport Corridor, could be the vital step in making this a reality.

All of the sudden, India’s dream of rivalling China and Pakistan has been dashed by the win-win spirit of cooperation which has the potential to make all parties satisfied, assuming India engages in a much needed realignment of its deeply negative zero-zum mentality. - EURASIA/FUTURE
Aamir Qureshi | AFP | Getty
ImagesChina is teaming up with a slew of countries to build a new Silk Road — but not everyone is happy
Justina Crabtree | @jlacrabtree
Published 8:01 AM ET Thu, 28 Dec 2017 Updated 5:58 AM ET Fri, 26 Jan 2018
China is building infrastructure developments — and relationships — with a number of countries as part of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It's considered the biggest foreign spending program by any one country since the U.S.' Marshall Plan to rebuild post-World War II Europe. But which projects in this attempt to revive ancient Silk Road trading routes stand to make the most headlines in the coming months? CNBC takes a look … for more, go to