BRI stands for Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the global development strategy initiated by the Chinese Government. This initiative involves infrastructure development and investments in 152 countries. International organizations in Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas are also part of this investment. This initiative was taken six years ago in 2013. This is initiated or processed further by Xi Jinping (2019). It covers about 65% of the world’s population, 60% of the world GDP and over 70 countries in six economic corridors.
The basic purpose of this BRI was:
- To construct a unified large market
- Make full use of international and domestic markets
- To make the cultural exchange and integration with other countries
- To enhance mutual understanding
- To build the trust of member nations
- Ending up in an innovation pattern with capital inflows, talent pool, and technology database.
The regions served under this initiative are:
- Middle East
The “Belt” refers to the overland route for roads and rail transportation also known as “The Silk Road Economic Belt” whereas “Road” refers to the sea routes or the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. BRI was also known as One Belt One Road (OBOR), The Silk Road Economic Belt and The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
This project was announced in 2013. The construction is to be planned in more than 60 countries along these routes. This plan is also called Chinese Marshall Plan. The Chinese investment is a kind of state-backed campaign for global dominance, a stimulus package for a slowing economy, and a massive marketing campaign. One can hear about Chinese investment all around the world.
Talking about how much money is being spent. The total amount expected to be spent in more than $1tn, although there are different estimates. If we look out on the analysis, China has invested more than $210bn, the majority of the investment is done in Asia. Chinese firms are also engaged in this construction work.
The most important point is about the risks involved in this project. The recent analysis says that government from Malaysia to Pakistan has starting to rethink about the costs of this project. Earlier this year, the center for Global Development found eight more belt and road countries at serious risk of not being able to repay their loans. Some nations are being affected by this like Djibouti, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, the Maldives, Mongolia, Montenegro, Pakistan, and Tajikistan. These countries are some of the poorest countries.
Why is India concerned?
Yes, you heard it right. India is concerned with BRI and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project. It violates sovereignty as it passes through the part of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir that belongs to India. China-India Relations also called as Sino-India Relations or Indo-China Relations.
It is the bilateral relationship just like India-Israel Relationship between the People’s Republic of China (PRC)and the Republic of India. The relationship is not so good as it suffers from border disputes and economic competition between the two countries. You must be aware that China and India are the two fastest growing major economies in the world.
Talking about Cultural and economic relations, this was setup in ancient times. The Silk Road not only served as a major route but also spread Buddhism from India to East Asia. The relation suffered from border disputes also. There were three military conflicts: The Sino-Indian war of 1962, the Chola incident in 1967 and the 1987 Sino-Indian Skirmish.
You would be surprised to know that both the countries clashed at the Doklam Plateau in early 2017. After facing such military issues, there was an improvement in their relations. Both countries have successfully rebuilt diplomatic and economic relations. In 2008, China became India’s largest trading partner.
The areas of conflict where both the countries faced issues:
- Tibet & Dalai Lama
- Two border disputes
- Domination of the Indian Ocean
- Water issue
- Pakistan Factor
- South China Sea issue and India
- Trade deficit
Despite having so much rivalry, there are still some areas where both countries cooperate with each other. These are:
- The spread of Buddhism in china by wandering Chinese monks more than 1500 years ago.
- Both are the member of BRICS Grouping. You might be aware of BRICS. BRICS is the acronym for the grouping of the world’s leading emerging economies, mainly Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. It is not an organization but a commitment or summit between the supreme leaders of five nations. It’s an emerging investment market and global power bloc.
- You might have heard about the China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. India was also the founding member of the china-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The main aim of this was to emulate institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
China and India, both supported each other in educational areas also. You might have heard about the Education Exchange Programme(EEP). Both the countries signed the Education Exchange Programme (EEP) in 2006, which is an umbrella agreement for educational cooperation between the two countries. The government scholarships are award to most 25 bright students to go for higher studies in each other’s countries. The 25 scholarships are awarded by India, offered by Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).
Talking about BRI summit, the second edition of BRI was held in Beijing. China removed the map from the BRI website that depicted entire Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh as a part of India. According to the map, India is the part of this project, but India opposed about it since it has projects such as CPEC(China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) which fall in PoK.
This violates India’s integrity and sovereignty. The first summit was held in 2017, which was boycotted by India. China had recently destroyed thousands of maps which showed Arunachal Pradesh as a part of India. According to them, Arunachal Pradesh doesn’t belong to India. China considers Arunachal Pradesh as part of its territory and refers to it as Southern Tibet.
According to the current BRI forum, china doesn’t only focus on building infrastructure projects, but it focuses on BRI’s broadened framework, which includes financial and humanitarian aid projects. Recently European countries like Italy joined BRI project. The deal signed is of worth 2.5 billion euros. This also includes working together to develop Italy’s port infrastructure, transport, and logistics. You must be aware of the fact that 13 European states are already part of BRI.
China also proposed a new funding model. They introduced the concept of third-party market cooperation under which the investments would be shared between more than one nations.
As India was concerned that why should it join the Belt and Road initiative because it would provide many economic benefits to India. It would give a boost to trade, investment, and business engagement. It would also provide direct access to Central Asia and Afghanistan. One of the most important factors that it would resolve all the conflicts between India and China. It would also help in security issues as the development of Gilgit-Baltistan region (which is included in BRI) would help to reduce security threats in the region.
Nearly every country across different continents has joined BRI. BRI aims to increase protectionism across the world. The success of this project depends on how China leads this project. China needs to focus on employment issues as well. To maintain political stability and regional cooperation in countries along BRI is also important.