The One Belt One Road grows, and grows more uncertain
At the Maritime Silk Road International Tourism Summit, UNESCO recognized Fujian Province as the starting point of the Maritime Silk Road. The province now builds a core area of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Route Economic Belt, integrating it into the One Belt One Road Initiative. At the summit, the World Tourism Organization and Asia Pacific Travel Association were invited to create a platform for exchange and cooperation in travel industries of countries along the Maritime Silk Road. Read more here
Although Japan agrees that One Belt One Road will be beneficial to the world economy, Japan still maintains an ambiguous attitude toward the OBOR initiative questioning its exclusivity. Responding to Japan's query, China has emphasized positive connotations, stating that OBOR has been an open and inclusive platform for cooperation from the very beginning. China sends an invitation to Japan to join.
The heads of two Japanese corporations, Shoji Sojuoka, chairman of Nippon Steel & Sumikin, the world's second largest steel producer, and Yasuzo Kudo, the president of NYK, one of the world's largest shipping companies, met with officials from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce to discuss future cooperation with the One Belt One Road initiative. The Chinese Premier, Li Keqiang, welcomed Japanese cooperation stating, "Both economies complement each other and China welcomes investment by Japanese companies." This is a major development as many Japanese firms were skeptical of the One Belt One Road initiative in its early stages. Read more here.
Zimbabwe’s current political turmoil is one example of recent setbacks affecting the future of the One Belt One Road Initiative. Many nations on the OBOR lag behind in their political systems. The instability of these nations' governments heightens the possibility of China’s losing investments. As stated by the U.S. Foreign Affairs Magazine, though the One Belt One Road Initiative is ambitious, it will not be a smooth process.
China's interest in the Arctic as part of its One Belt One Road economic initiative has created international tensions surrounding the uncertainty about its true intentions on the continent.
China in Africa
The Chinese enterprise China Gezhouba Group Corporation signed a 5.8 billion USD contract with the Nigerian government to build a new hydropower station. In Eritrea, China's Exopt-Import Bank provided a 98 million USD loan to expand the Hirgigo power plant. The China SFECO Group Corporation carried out the Hirgigo expansion project. Lastly, the Longyuan Mulilo De Aar Wind Power Project in South Africa started operation. The project was a joint effort between Chinese firm China Longyuan Power Group Corporation and South African firm Mulilo Renewable Energy. Read more here.
China announced the creation of a strategic association with Djibouti, the only nation with a logistical Chinese military support base. The president of Djibouti, Ismail Omar Guelleh, travelled to Beijing where he and President Xi Jinping agreed to reinforce cooperation and oversee the work to apply the results of the Forum of African-Chinese Cooperation. Xi Jinping then invited Djibouti to become part of the construction of the One Belt One Road project. Some critics state that China is seeking to expand its military presence in Africa through Djibouti . While the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has told the media that the base is meant to contribute toward relief activities. Read more here and here.
Panama and China continue to increase relations
When China and Panama signed 19 deals regarding future endeavors, Panama’s Minister of Economy and Finance and the Chinese Government also signed an agreement to open a study into the feasibility of a free trade agreement. The 19 agreements included promoting commercial exchanges and investments, and funding for energy transmission development. Read more here.
Panama’s president Juan Carlos Varela announced that a direct flight from China to Panama would be introduced in March 2018, with only a technical stop in Houston, Texas. This news follows Panama’s announcement reversing its acknowledgement of Taiwan’s independence and the 19 trade deals that broadened the relations between the two nations. The new route will open commercial and tourist opportunities for Panama and Latin America in general. Read more here and here.
Chinese investment in Central and Eastern Europe
The Central Eastern European states and China are about to hold their 16+1 summit where the subject of Chinese foreign investment will undoubtedly arise. The Belt and Road Initiative is interested in this region and had set an objective of 100 billion USD. As of 2016, trade has increased to 58 billion USD. Read more here.
Under the One Belt One Road initiative, China recently opened up its first direct railway line to Slovakia. Read more here.
The Export-Import Bank of China will provide up to 80 percent financing costs for the construction of a coal fired power plant in Belgrade, Serbia. The plant is projected to cost a total of 713 million USD. Read more here.
The vice president and corporate secretary of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Danny Alexander, spoke to Xinhua about the objectives of the AIIB and its dedication to operating at the highest international standards. He expands upon the bank's priorities in sustainable infrastructure, cross-country connectivity and the mobilization of private capital.
Investments in India and Russia
The Chinese New Bank of Development, established by BRICS, approved two infrastructure and sustainable development projects in India and Russia with loans totaling 400 million USD. In India, the loan will be used to rehabilitate the Indira Gandhi Canal. In Russia, the loan will be used to fund the construction of a transportation corridor that will connect Ufa, Russia with the federal M-5 highway.
Asian Development Bank Updates
On November 23, the ADB appointed Mukhtor Khamudkhanov to be the new country director for Nepal. Read more here.
The India Innovation Lab for Green Finance has launched two new financial instruments in partnership with the ADB to catalyze up to 1 billion USD for investment in green energy projects. Read more here.
Portugal, a founding member of the ADB, is seeking to establish Lisbon as a potential critical link in the Silk Roads maritime economic links. Read more here.
An Opinion on China's Rise
After comparing China’s rapid economic growth and its global influence to the U.S., some believe that the U.S. will soon become a “large-scale Australia,” an exporter of resources for energy and beef, yet this is not the case. It is true that China is rapidly developing, but China still has a lot to work on, like its politics. It is said that China never thought of a single dominant power, and the world leadership in the future will be diverse.