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Silk Road Summit: Connecting the World

Silk Road Summit: Connecting the World
China will host a major Silk Road summit in the middle of this month to discuss its myriad connectivity projects across the world.

A bevy of world leaders are expected to attend, first and foremost among them Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the function will allow Chinese President Xi to showcase his One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road infrastructural integration.

Officially announced in 2013 during the Chinese leader’s visits to Kazakhstan and Indonesia, OBOR, as it’s colloquially called, seeks to construct the groundwork for an alternative world system based less on the dominance of Western countries and institutions and more on win-win cooperation between equal partners. China believes that improved connectivity is the key to maximizing every state’s options in the ever-changing 21st-century globalized world, and that with time, the parallel multipolar institutions that rise out of this emerging order and are strengthened by it could ultimately replace the unipolar system.

The vehicle of change being pursued by China is infrastructural investment, commonly manifested by what the public calls New Silk Roads, and a few prominent projects stand out as the centerpieces of this vision. The largest and most important one is inarguably the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC, which will provide the People’s Republic with its first reliable non-Malacca access route to the Indian Ocean, and from there, the markets of Europe, the Mideast, and Africa.

Of similar importance but much less developed is the Eurasian Land Bridge which aims to connect East Asia with Western Europe by means of a series of high-speed railways transiting through Russia. Also of significance are China’s high-speed rail plans for ASEAN in linking the Yunnan capital of Kunming with Singapore, and the recently completed Djibouti-Addis Ababa railway in East Africa is another relevant example. We also shouldn’t forget the Balkan Silk Road which envisions connecting the Hungarian capital of Budapest with the Greek port of Piraeus via Belgrade and Skopje.

China’s Silk Road plans are very ambitious, and as President Xi alluded to during his January speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, they essentially amount to an updated version of globalization meant to counteract the recent trend of protectionism. That being said, there’s no escaping the profound geostrategic implications of this worldwide system of New Silk Roads, and it’s clear that OBOR presents a serious challenge to the Western-led international order.

Tom McGregor, CNTV (China Network Television) Commentator and Editor, and Tayyab Baloch, Islamabad-based regional security expert, writer at Geopolitica.Ru, and reporter at Abb Takk TV shared their views.

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