Establishing a deeper understanding of the One Belt, One Road initiative than is often employed by the international community, Maxim Mikhalev uses influential Chinese publications – designed for domestic audiences – to explain one of the most important international infrastructure projects of our time. The initiative is more than an economic or infrastructure initiative; it contains features of long-term foreign policy strategy and possesses significant implications for both the existing Western monopoly on economic development recipes, and the very nature of globalisation.
When speaking of infrastructure projects, it is important to not only take into consideration their technical and economic dimensions, but to also pay attention to their historical premises and social significance. It is especially important to apply this approach while analysing international infrastructure projects because, by default, their scope transcends civilisational borders, and as such, the benefits they bring or the harm they cause can have profound impact on the landscape of humanity on a truly global scale. For this reason, any such project must be carefully analysed from the perspectives of both cultural ecology and historical development, as only in this way can their potential contribution to the progress of humanity, or their potential damage, be estimated.
One of the most important international infrastructure projects of our time is the ‘One Belt, One Road’ strategy, proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013. Although its real scope and targets remain unclear, it is obvious that by 2016 it had already outgrown the purely economic and infrastructure development goals declared initially, and had become an ambitious global plan for promoting China’s development model. In the eyes of Chinese strategists, it enables China to build a platform for the harmonious co-existence of independent yet interdependent civilisations, fostered by shared economic interests and common attitudes to paths of development. The ideas and the principles embodied in this new pragmatic approach to the dialogue of equals is worth careful investigation, and this paper attempts to shed light on the historical and civilisational premises, as well as the explicit and implicit goals, of China’s new global initiative.
In the case that interpretations of the meanings and intentions of the ‘One Belt, One Road’ strategy are based only on official pamphlets prepared in China for an international audience, however, some important underlying motives behind the Chinese strategy’s launch, and of its real driving forces, can be easily overlooked. In order to avoid this and at the same time to achieve a more comprehensive understanding of the topic, this paper analyses some influential Chinese publications related to ‘One Belt, One Road’, which were intended specifically for a Chinese audience. It is believed that this can contribute to deeper understanding of the meaning of the ‘One Belt, One Road’ strategy and the reasons for its launch.
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