The Phaserl


No Way Back For Re-Emerging Silk Road In Flux – Augusto Soto

by Augusto Soto, The News Doctors:

Xi Jinping’s recent visits to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iran and his upcoming visit to the Czech Republic in March remind us of more challenges for the “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) policy now than when it was announced in 2013.

At first glance, all countries on Xi’s most recent agenda are part of a grand business diplomacy approach. The first three are clearly under geopolitical tensions and security threats defined by several pundits as issues of main global concern for the year 2016. These real and unfathomable factors might affect the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (another reference for OBOR) in a crucial year for the project.

More clouds than last year

In recent months more doubts emerged about the initiative.

First, factors such as a rather pessimistic economic outlook (including the very doubt about EU’s cohesion), China’s economic adjustment (called “new normal” in China, and “slowdown” by influential analysts abroad), and perceptions of insecurity in China’s neighbouring Central Asia and South East Asia seem to be principle elements bound to affect the initial steps of OBOR.

Final communiqué of the G20 meeting in Shanghai released on February 27, declared that “downside risks and vulnerabilities have risen, against the backdrop of volatile capital flows, a large drop in commodity prices, escalated geopolitical tensions, the shock of a potential UK exit from the European Union and a large and increasing number of refugees in some regions”.

Second. More than ever it is necessary to keep in mind the fact that most of the countries (developed or underdeveloped) seeking to participate in OBOR, unlike Beijing lack strategy and long-term planning. At most they plan for a period of one presidential term. Thus, for several states the task to interconnect with China in a responsible long-term way is relatively constrained.

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