Monday, 16 February 2015


"Belt and Road" not reaction to U.S. Pivot to Asia

"Either the observers who pitched the two against each other are unwilling to see the Belt and Road initiatives go smoothly or they want to strain China-U.S. ties at a time when the two nations are aiming to build a new type of major-country relationship."

BEIJING, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- Rather than seeking regional dominance,China's plans to build an East-West trade network across the Asian continent are pacifist in nature because of their inclusiveness and aim at mutual benefit.

Western media outlets have portrayed the proposals as a counterweight to the U.S. "Pivot to Asia" strategy of rebalancing its resources towards the Asia-Pacific. But they should note two historical episodes related to the Silk Road, the planned network's forebear. One features Zhang Qian, who spread Chinese culture when exploring the routes and brought into China products including grapes and sesame two thousand years ago.

The other concerns admiral Zheng He and his fleet's seven voyages overseas, the longest of which took him to the eastern African coast over the equator. On these expeditions, Zheng carried with him not blood and fire but porcelain, silk and tea.

As an effort to revive the ancient routes of peace and exchange that the two luminaries explored, the "Silk Road Economic Belt" and the "21st Century Maritime Silk Road" initiatives -- referred to collectively as the "Belt and Road" -- do not challenge the fronts of Washington's trademark policy, which is widely seen as an effort to ensure U.S. hegemony and security interests remain unchallenged in the region.

To achieve that goal, the United States plans to deploy 60 percent of its fleet in the Pacific, and equip the Pacific Command with the most cutting-edge capabilities by 2020, in addition to increasing its diplomatic and economic resources in the region.

Instead of seeking to establish an enlarged military presence that is likely to complicate the regional SECURITY situation, China's proposals are purely about infrastructure, trade and economic cooperation, a vision very much in the same vein as those of Zhang and Zheng.

That's why the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which was founded to finance infrastructure construction and promote regional interconnections, is popular among countries along the Silk Road routes, with the number of founding members rising to 26 since October.

In addition, China will contribute 40 billion U.S. dollars to set up the Silk Road Fund, which will be used to help projects related to connectivity for countries along the routes.

As a developing nation coping with the new normal of slower economic growth, the vision, proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, is also dedicated to facilitating the economic development of China's less developed western provinces and regions, which border many Asian neighbors along the Silk Road.

More importantly, the benefits of the Belt and Road will go beyond China and its Asian neighbors. As evidenced by the Venetian merchant and traveler Marco Polo, who reached China by the route, the initiatives will boost people-to-people exchange and understanding between East and West.

At a two-day seminar that concluded on Thursday in China's eastern city of Quanzhou, a famous ancient port visited by Marco Polo, Liu Qibao, head of the publicity department of the Communist Party of China's Central Committee, stressed the Silk Road initiatives are bringing opportunities for common prosperity.

When considering these factors, the logic of linking the initiatives with the U.S. strategy of maintaining its influence in Asia is untenable.

Either the observers who pitched the two against each other are unwilling to see the Belt and Road initiatives go smoothly or they want to strain China-U.S. ties at a time when the two nations are aiming to build a new type of major-country relationship.

Commentary: Maritime Silk Road initiative to reduce friction, catalyze common prosperity

BEIJING, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) -- Even a not-so-close scrutiny of the maritime Silk Road proposed by China will allow the observer to know that the route passes large areas in the South China Sea.

With China laying bear its concepts and intentions of win-win development, common prosperity and cultural inclusiveness in initiating such a route, it is believed that the project will also be helpful in solving disputes on the much-hyped "troubled water."

With its primary function as a trade route, the Maritime Silk Road will promote common development of the region and boost Asia's role as an important and sustainable engine for the growht of global economy, for the project entails hardware improvements which is crucial for the economic upgrade.

What's more important, the benefits does not stop there. More frequent exchanges of people, commodities and ideas will lead to better understanding between trading partners, as proven by the original Silk Road that spans Asia, Africa and Europe.

The proposal put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping to rejuvenate the ancient trade route reflects China's earnestness to spur regional growth and share development opportunities with neighbors and far-away partners as well.

The idea was echoed many times at a two-day seminar that concluded Thursday in China's eastern coastal city of Quanzhou, once the world's largest trading port that even dwarfed the glamour of Alexandria in Egypt as showed in historical data and accounts of renowned travellers like Marco Polo.

Refuting irresponsible allegations by China-demonizers that the initiative betrays China's ambition to dominate the region, many analysts and experts attending the seminar expounded nature of the Maritime Silk Road proposal: what China seeks is not regional domination but win-win situation, not confrontation but cooperation, not hegemony but peaceful co-existence.

The spirit, also manifested in China's approach in resolving disputes with some neighbors in regard to the South China Sea, deserves applause from media outlets that base their reports on truth rather than bias.

Some Western media outlets have turned a habitual blind eye to the constructive efforts by China to make the South China Sea a sea of peace but tried every trick to play up "China threat," and there is no exception when it comes to reporting the China-proposed maritime Silk Road.

As noted by Xinhua News Agency's President Cai Mingzhao at the Quanzhou seminar, the media plays an irreplaceable role in promoting mutual understanding and friendship among countries.

For media outlets that even do not bother to conceal their habitual prejudice against China, they should be reminded that by always casting China in the negative light they do risk their credibility.

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