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B&R Key Words (12): Similar Initiatives (Part I)

Editor: Qian Ding 丨CCTV.com

05-05-2017 09:33 BJT

Editor's Note: Keywords to Understand China: the Belt and Road Initiative is a selection of "China Keywords" entries included in an eponymous multilingual platform to help readers better understand China’s B&R Initiative. It is one of the major projects implemented by the China International Publishing Group and the China Academy of Translation.

United Nations: Silk Road Initiative

The Silk Road Initiative (SRI) was first discussed in the 1960s. The initial plan was to build 14,000 kilometers of railway line linking Singapore and Turkey. Many governments and organizations supported the initiative, with the United Nations playing the driving role.

The United Nations Development Programme formally launched the SRI in February 2008. Officials from 19 countries including China, Russia, Iran and Turkey signed letters of intent in Geneva, Switzerland, committing to invest US$43 billion in the ensuing years to reinvigorate the ancient Silk Road and other Eurasian land arteries over a combined distance of 7,000 kilometers.

A total of 230 projects were planned from 2008 to 2014 to improve the infrastructure along the ancient trade routes and open a number of economic corridors. The ultimate goal was to bring a renaissance to the ancient routes, providing new development opportunities for Central Asian and East European countries, and enabling the inland areas to benefit from globalization.

Russia: Eurasian Union

The idea of a Eurasian Union was first proposed by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in an op-ed on Izvestia on October 5, 2011. It aims to integrate the member countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) into a customs and economic union and ultimately to build a supra-national alliance of sovereign countries.

Russia's plan is to starting with six CIS countries (Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan), and then expand the Eurasian Union to include all former Soviet republics, and beyond that, to cover the Asia-Pacific region.

A central component of the Eurasian Union, the Eurasian Economic Union was launched in 2015. Free flow of products, services, capital and labor within the union is envisaged by 2025, and the final goal is to broaden the union into one similar to the European Union, with a unified market benefiting 170 million people.

The prospects for aligning the Eurasian Union framework with the Belt and Road Initiative appear promising. The latter will buttress Russia's efforts to shift the center of gravity of its economic development to Siberia and the Far East, to bridge the gap between its Asian and European parts, and to propel the process of building a fledgling Eurasian Union.

Kazakhstan: “Bright Road” Initiative

In November 2014, President Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan announced an economic policy called "Bright Road," intended to spur the country's economic growth by means of large-scale investment.

The "Bright Road" Initiative plans to spend US$9 billion over a period of three years on transport, logistics, industrial and energy infrastructure, public facilities, water and heating supply, housing, public services, and small and medium enterprises.

The huge investment will upgrade Kazakhstan’s transport network and make the country a global transit corridor connecting markets in China, Europe and the Middle East.

Kazakhstan's decision-makers expect that the initiative will double the freight transported through the country to China, Central Asia, Russia and Europe, to 33 million tons per year.

They and their Chinese counterparts agree that the "Bright Road" Initiative and the Belt and Road Initiative are complementary and mutually reinforcing. They have expressed a strong desire to seek a better alignment of the two, and practical measures are being taken in this regard.

Mongolia: "Steppe Road" Program

Unveiled in November 2014, Mongolia's "Steppe Road" Program relies on its strategically important location on the Eurasian continent to reinvigorate its economy by improving transport and trade.

With an estimated investment of US$50 billion, projects envisioned under the "Steppe Road" Program include a 997-kilometer-long expressway linking China and Russia, 1,100 kilometers of power transmission lines, and expansion of existing railways as well as gas and oil pipelines.

The Mongolian government believes that the program will bring business opportunities to the areas the new arteries traverse, and improve productivity in many sectors. It will benefit, in particular, Mongolia’s pillar industries – energy and mining – and provide them with a launching pad for transformational change.

As the leaders of China and Mongolia have affirmed on multiple occasions, the Belt and Road Initiative and the "Steppe Road" Program dovetail neatly with each other and will contribute to development efforts of both countries.

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


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