China Silk route is also known as one belt one road(OBOR) or modern silk route. This route is inspired by the ancient silk route which started in the 2nd BC i.e around 2200 years ago. The main aim of this route is to connect China to the European countries to trade mostly silk, that is why it is called Silk road. This route also connected India, Africa, and the Middle east. As ships began to develop and large ships began to be built, most of the trade started going through the seas and ocean routes became more important. These ships used to sail through the Red Sea of Africa via the land route of Egypt then through mediterranean sea and finally connected to Europe. After the discovery of the Sea route by Vasco Da Gama in 1498, the ships started sailing across all the African continent and then can reach directly from China to Europe. This was the base of the ancient silk route.
This new project of modern-day silk road has 2 parts.
1. Silk Road economic belt (S.R.E.B) that runs through the land route
2. Maritime silk road (M.S.R) or also called it as 21st-century silk road, that runs through sea route.
The combination of this belt and road is known as the belt and road initiative or belt and road scheme of china. The main aim of this project is to focus on how to improve infrastructure and to increase the trade between various countries.
Xi Xingping, the current president of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) wanted to restart this project just after coming to power. When he became the president of PRC in 2013, he announced that this Silk Road will restart with a new plan and new strategy. As we all know, China is a new hub for manufacturing units of almost all the industries. Mr Xi wants to connect all the countries through one common route which is later known as One belt one road or new silk road.
The land route starts from the city of Xi’an, the southern side of Chinese province and goes via Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Iran then finally reaches Europe. The Maritime silk route begins with Fuzhou city via south china sea, Strait of Malacca, Malaysia, Indian ocean, Africa then finally through Red sea and reaches to Europe. These are two ways or routes to connect China with Eurasia and this way China gets connected with maximum land on this Earth and via Sea routes they cover almost the whole world. So you can see this project is very big as it includes Europe, Africa, Central Asia.
The idea of starting this project is to connect all the nation to one common route and achieve one common goal, Hence the name One belt one road (OBOR).
In the given map provided by China’s official news agency Xinhua news, you can see the complete list of projects provided by this new Silk Road initiative. Blueline denoted the Sea routed while the black line shows land infrastructure. In this land route various road, railways, gas pipelines will be included In the red colour you can see the gas pipeline while green lines indicate oil pipeline. So there are multiple numbers of Assignment or projects are available
Purpose of Modern China Silk Route
This One belt one road(OBOR) or One road one belt (OROB) mainly focuses on connecting china with Eurasia(Europe+Asia) and increase the cooperation and connectivity between People’s republic of China i.e. PRC( the official name of China) to various Asian and European Countries. This land route will cover many central Asain Landlocked countries (countries which do not share its boundary with Ocean or Sea) and connect it with various countries and makes their connectivity easier. In another way, the maritime silk road will cover various littoral(Countries that share boundary with the sea) Southeast Asia nation ex -, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia etc.
WHAT IS IT MADE OF
But one questions that arise is what is one belt one road? we just learnt it only on paper. The actual question is how it is made of? What is so important that makes this project so special and important? Here are some lists of Sectors and infrastructure we are going to learn about this programme.
These highways and expressways pass through various mountains, passes of Himalayas, Karakoram pass, Qianshan range and will connect various countries where trucks will import and export goods to other countries.
2. Overland rail routes
Very long rail routes will be implemented so that the transport becomes easier and cheaper.
China is constructing a port in many countries on their own expense
4. Gas pipeline
China is developing gas pipeline in central asain countries which have huge reserve of natural gas, and connecting these pipelines to china and various other nations so that the distribution of gas can be implemented in the proper way.
5. Other infrastructures
There are many other railway projects and other infrastructure including many construction projects that China has taken.
These are just a very small part of these OBOR initiatives and the below picture shows the location of their various projects.
TRAINS RUNNING ALREADY FROM CHINA
There is a train already running from china to Duisburg, a German city. This train started its first journey in 2013, since then it is very effective. It takes almost 12-13 days to complete its journey. This train is running even before the Silk road initiative. But another train that connects north china to Spanish city name Madrid has recently started under the projects of this new OBOR project. This train was started in 2016 and since then it has proven to be very effective, cheaper as compared to Ships. It takes almost 13-14 days to complete its journey which is very less time as compared to Ships that take 35-40 days to complete its journey.
Due to this time saving all the electronic components are exported through this train and then distributed to almost all the European countries at very low cost, hence this
makes all Europe flooded with Chinese products and making Countries very much dependent on Chinese products.
AIMS STARTED BY CHINA
1. China officially says that it wants to restore its historical heritage by restarting this old Silk road project.
2. They say that they want to rejuvenate their culture and add new energy to it and this will lead to an exchange of various cultures between several countries.
3. Trade and economic cooperation
4. Various rail gauges will have one standard railway track. Many countries follow different gauge lengths, but after OBOR all the railways track will share one common gauge range. The same will happen to Sea ports also as some ports have capacity to carry small ships and some with large ships. But this Silk project all the ports will have one common standard port.
5. If China successfully achieves this project, then there is going to form one common financial integrated community just like the European Union. China also wants to develop a common entity of various Central Asian and Southeast countries, this may take 40-50 years to achieve it completely. This is one of the main goals of China behind this project.
WHERE WILL THE MONEY COME FROM
Now the first question here arises from where we will get such a huge amount of money to complete this project. We don’t even have enough money to complete our own railways, roads and various industries, But from where china is getting all the money and funds from. Although This project is going to cost a total of $ 4 trillion.
There are many sources which is funding money to this ongoing project, some of them are :-
1.For this project China has established Asian Infrastructure investment bank (AIIB), The aim of this project is to provide funds to various infrastructural projects. Another bank is the National development bank (NDB) which comes under BRICS. India is part of both these banks.
2. China development bank, a national bank of china
3. They started their own fund for this project called Silk road fund which has a total volume of $40 billion.
4. Some of the funds will come from the partner nations which are the part of this project.
WHY CHINA NEEDS OROB?
1. China is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and they also have a very large population of almost 1.4 billion and industrialisation in china has boomed since past decades, so their need for energy has increased exponentially. By doing this project they will fulfill their requirement of energy by importing natural gas from central asia and oil and gas from Russia.
2. The Southern and Eastern part of China is very less developed. People there Lived below the poverty line. All these cities we heard about are Beijing and Shanghai which are located on the Northern and Eastern side and they are very developed. So this land project is initiated from Eastern side and the maritime oceanic project is started from the Southern side.
3. Chinese know that the quality of products they export are very low and by going this pace they wont even survive the coming recession and depression. So they wants to reach to very poorer and underdeveloped countries i.e African and middle east nations where. 4. They want to integrate their economy, as their economy is mostly dependent on
export. Their trade is mostly with European and American counties. They want to connect their business with Central asian and African nations. 5. And finally they want global dominance. After doing so many projects China is
going to become a hub for various economic activities and this will lead China to dominant this world. They can even challenge Europe and the USA. It even works against or challenge USA scheme Trans pacific partnership(T.P.P) in which countries like japan, Indonesia, Philippines are part of.
Now we will see what is India’s stand on this OBOR project, why India has so many objections on this project and why not India do not want to be part of this bigger plan.
1. China has not disclosed the exact details of this project i.e what is the length of
the railways and roads, what are the regions that these roads will cover, what is the capacity of the ports. Whatever the details China has given to other countries is only on the papers and on the maps.
2. China is making roads for Pakistan in the pakistan occupied kashmir (pok) known
as China pakistan economic corridor(CPEC) which violates the territorial integrity of India in Kashmir, that is one of biggest concerns on India regarding this Silk route projects.
3. By doing this OBOR, china will dominate the Indian ocean region and India
wouldn’t like it as this 21st century is also known as Indian ocean century, because most of the trade is going through this region only. In the 19th century it was the Atlantic ocean, the 20th century was pacific century and now Indian ocean will have more importance in the coming 21st century. Once China gains control of the Indian ocean, then there will be a big loss of geo strategy of India in this location.
4. String of pearls theory – In the given below figure you can see that china is making ports all around india in various countries and Island and surrounding India from all directions. These ports show red dots, Gwadar in Pakistan, Male in Maldives, Hambantota in Srilanka, Chittagaon in Bangladesh ,Sittwe in Myanmar and Coco island near Andaman. You can see that by doing so a string of pearls are being made all around India. So that whenever a war starts between these two Asian giants, China can easily bring their fighter navy ships and can counter India easily. This is the biggest threat to the nation because China may cut off India from the whole world. We are already facing a tremendous increase in diesel and petrol prices even though the actual price of crude oil is constantly decreasing in Middle east countries, because china already stayed blocking these areas and creating problems for Indian docs ship. So this string of pearl theory is already in effect.
The china pakistan economic corridor(CPEC) has brought these two nations very close as china is investing around $46 billions to improve their infrastructures including various railways, road, port and power plants. This will improve Pakistan’s economy to
some extended level. They also have helped pakistan strengthen their defense which is of major concern for India as in war like condition pakistan may show strong side to India.
POSITIVES FOR INDIA
If India joins this OBOR project then it will give a very high boost to indian economy as we also will connect to Eurasia along with china, we can also get everything that china will import like natural gas, oil and other energy resources. This may also integrate Indian economy to the world. Some of the Indian part lives under very poorer infrastructure, so this new Silk project is not only helping China but also India. All those pipelines that are connecting Iran, central asia and pakistan will also connect India hence we can meet our demands of energy needs. There are a lot of trust issues going on between India and China especially regarding border disputes in Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh region. By joining this belt we can also resolve issues like these and it improves both countries’ relations.
DIFFICULTIES IN CHINA’S WAY
1. South China Sea dispute:- Countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, brunei,
Philippines, vietnam are claiming some parts of South china seas because of fact that there are huge reserves of energy resources like oil, natural gas but whoever is claiming their part china is strongly condemning their claims. Cina is also making artificial islands to strengthen their claim that south china seas belong to them. Due to this the maritime silk road is facing some difficulties as these counties are hesitating to join this Silk project 2. The other conflict is for Senkaku island between Japan and China, due to this
Japan is also facing trust issues with china.
3. The main concern for china is India as India comes between both that is if India does not join this OBOR project then china may face difficulties in expanding maritime silk road as well as the land road project. The main reason for not joining this project is that mistrust and a border dispute with China.
4. All the Chinese companies i.e. The Architect, the engineers wherever they are working, facing some cultural differences. Some countries have different requirements. If one country doesn’t have proper road infrastructure, then China is making railways, if one lacs railways infrastructure then China is developing Ports. So these kinds of difficulties China is facing. This issue is not just 5-6 countries but at least 50 countries.
This is one of Xi Jinping’s special projects that’s why he travels to various countries and asks their leaders to join this project. Even the personally asked Indian prime minister Narendra Modi to join this initiative. This is a very effective and economic project for Asian countries. Many economic experts from India suggested that we also should join this OROB or many countries may take over the Indian economy in the coming future.