BEIJING: Why do Western commentators look at China’s Belt and Road Initiative with Cold War prejudice, calling it a modern-day version of the U.S.-led Marshall Plan for post-World War II reconstruction in Europe, or the 19th century Great Game, in which Britain and Russia battled for control in central Asia.
There is a zero-sum mentality behind these claims.
Some don’t trust China’s strategic motivation, arguing the initiative is a geopolitical tool to assert regional leadership and establish a new sphere of influence.
Others resist the China-championed program with fear of losing clout in the global financial system.
However, Western skeptics have failed to see the fact that the Chinese don’t harbor a zero-sum mentality, but encourage win-win thinking. As Confucius once said: “He who wants success should enable others to succeed.”
The initiative was offered by China for the good of all.
Building upon the spirit of ancient routes, the modern Belt and Road is a transnational network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa with the aim of promoting common development among all countries involved.
Unlike the Marshall Plan, no political conditions have been imposed on participants in the Belt and Road. China has always advocated that countries should respect each other’s rights to independently choose their own social system and development path.
While western European countries had little say in the implementation of the Marshall Plan, China is stepping up policy consultation with its partners.
Based on principles of equality and mutual benefit, China and its partners are picking up speed in road connections, trade and investment facilitation, monetary circulation and understanding between people.
Openness, inclusiveness and mutual benefit are the hallmarks of the Belt and Road and the source of the strong support it has garnered.
Since 2013, over 100 countries and international organizations have responded warmly to the initiative, with the signing of nearly 50 inter-governmental agreements of cooperation. New Zealand became the first developed Western country to join in March.
Concrete and targeted projects under the framework, which are consistent with local demands, have been rolled out to aid development.
Chinese companies have invested more than 50 billion U.S. dollars and built 56 economic and trade cooperation zones in 20 countries along the routes, creating 180,000 local jobs and spurring the economic development of these countries.
How has the Chinese approach reaped such an early harvest despite a sluggish economic recovery, flagging international trade and a degree of backsliding on globalization?
The key lies in abandoning the law of the jungle, hegemonism and power politics as a zero-sum game, while replacing them with cooperation, partnership and sharing.
The Belt and Road Initiative, which embodies responsibility, win-win cooperation and genuine pursuit of common development, offers the world a Chinese answer to the challenges of today a balanced, equitable and inclusive development model.
We are closer today than we have ever been. Living in a close-knit community of shared future, we must scrap the Cold War prejudice and zero-sum mentality, and redouble our efforts to develop global connectivity to enable all countries to achieve inter-connected growth and share the prosperity.—APP