News Bulletin

China's Regional Power Shift The Silk Road Initiative
China let the cat out of the bag at the Bo Ao Forum for Asia, where President Xi Jinping stated that the recent initiatives of the Silk Road and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will include China's friends and partners, in addition to any country which is willing to join this coalition indicating to the emerging power transition at the Asian level. This is not surprising given the statement by President Xi at last May's CICA summit meeting at Shanghai that Asian security issues have to be dealt by the Asians. This reminds one of what China's founding leader Mao Zedong once said about setting up a different kitchen. Although Mao?s 1949 statement is targeted against Kuomintang, sixty years later, China clearly has the United States in mind. China's plan, unveiled formally at the Bo Ao forum, contains modest principles with the United Nations Charteras the basis. Mentioned in 2013 during President Xi Jinping's visits to Kazakhstan and Indonesia, the Silk Road initiative connects an ambitious area of Europe with Asia and Africa, including the Indian Ocean region. This region has 4.4 billion people, constituting 63% of the global population and with a combined GDP of $21 trillion. As China's growth is slowing down from double digits to about 7% in the ?new normal?, such an ambitious pan continental connectivity provides China an opportunity to lift its profile, provide market access to its manufactured goods, avenue for its excessive capacities and contribute to renminbi internationalization and at the same time under-cut the US rebalance towards the Asia-Pacific.

The five goals outlined as a part of this initiative, viz.,policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bonds, make clear China's leading role in this initiative. The action plan remains innocent and modest, with cooperation, harmony and inclusiveness, market operation and mutual benefit, although in actual practice, which country dominates the processes is anybody's guess. A number of smaller countries are likely to jump onto this bandwagon. Already, over 60 countries have expressed interest in the Silk Road initiative and 40 more have lined up for the AIIB, including US allies. So when President Xi stated at Bo Ao that this Chinese song is not a ?solo?, ?but a chorus sung by countries along the route?, he is proposing a united front of like-minded partners.

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