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China-US ties: From Ben Franklin to Belt & Road Initiative

Editor: Qian Ding 丨CCTV.com

03-29-2017 16:11 BJT

By Christopher Cottrell, editor of Peace Post and South China Sea Magazine, based in Hong Kong

Like many Americans, my first ideas about China began in grade school—with pictures of the Great Wall fueling my imagination.

The great inventor and diplomat Benjamin Franklin was pondering an "American Civilization" that would be based on his readings of Chinese civilization. He exhorted the virtues of Confucianism. In 1737, he introduced to readers of the Pennsylvania Gazette newspaper a series of essays, "From the Morals of Confucius." 


 Benjamin Franklin

He wrote Confucian philosophy was, "the gate through which it is necessary to pass to arrive at the sublimest wisdom and most perfect."

Mr. Franklin carried a passion for learning about all matters Chinese, as he wrote in 1784, "China was a stronghold of creativity, knowledge, and wealth." Moreover, it was, "the most ancient, and from long Experience the wisest of Nations."

And moving forward to today, China is expanding its global presence abroad after Chinese President Xi Jinping introduced the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013.

Beijing has a grand plan to boost cross-border trade and investments that link China to the regions of Asia, Middle East, Central Asia, Europe and Africa.

The strategy is to establish the AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank) to serve as the finance mechanism to construct major infrastructure projects in the B&R sphere.

Plans are already under way to build economic corridors, logistics-energy-manufacturing hubs, along with more roads, railways, ports and airports. With the emergence of more super-infrastructure networks, companies can transport goods abroad in a more efficient manner.

Hopefully, U.S. and Chinese ties can find powerful synergy in this area. U.S. construction companies and IT firms can offer excellence logistics support and planning with enhanced satellite data, geological studies, and environmental impact reports.

There are already U.S. companies working well with Chinese firms inside the PRC, as well as top architects U.S. companies, owing to domestic matters of due diligence, offer premium safety services and planning that Chinese firms are already employing.

Recent Wall Street IPOs (initial public offerings) of Chinese logistics firms also bolster future opportunities for those firms to involve American investment and expertise in ever expanding logistics endeavors.

Indeed, the Belt & Road (or B&R) projects extend from port services to home delivery of online shopping. In short, with Central Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa, Europe, the Pacific Basin coming into a prosperous circuit. 

There is only a matter of time before stronger links with the Americas are set into powerful motion.

This new logistics flow will connect workers, manufacturing, and markets like never before over the coming decades. 

Perhaps Washington could play a more pivotal role in the B&R and the US should strongly consider signing up as a member state for the AIIB.

President Donald J. Trump recently announced bold plans to rebuild America‘s infrastructure and pledged to spend over $US1 trillion on the initiative. In order to do so American companies can work hand-in-hand with Chinese contruction firms to make America great again. 

We should anticipate that despite major differences between Beijing and Washington on major issues of concern that include trade, globalism and territorial claims, Xi and Trump can find areas of common ground to spark greater prosperity ties for the two world’s largest economies.


【Christopher Cottrell,  editor of Peace Post and South China Sea Magazine, based in Hong Kong】

(The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com)

Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

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