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B&R Key Words (14) : Similar Initiatives (Part III)

Editor: Qian Ding 丨CCTV.com

05-05-2017 09:52 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 States: New Silk Road Initiative

The US New Silk Road Initiative was originally conceived by Frederick Starr, a John Hopkins University scholar, in 2005.

The initiative was formally announced by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in July 2011 at the Second US-India Strategic Dialogue in India. It aims to build a new geopolitical block consisting of the pro-US market economies with secular political systems.

With a special focus on Afghanistan, it seeks to expand cooperation among Central and Southern Asian countries in areas such as energy and transport as well as on political and security issues to boost local economic and social development and serve US strategic interests in the region.

In October of the same year, the US Department of State instructed US embassies in the countries concerned to rebrand its Central and Southern Asia policies under the New Silk Road framework, and to notify international partners accordingly. Such a move marked the formal inclusion of the New Silk Road Initiative in US official policies.

Some of the New Silk Road Initiative projects have now been completed, including the Uzbekistan-Afghanistan Railway and Tajikistan's Sangtuda Hydropower Station, which is already supplying power to Afghanistan.

Judging by official releases and the progress of the initiative, the US has shown no intention of giving it up despite challenges in terms of backward support infrastructure, insufficient funds, lack of mutual trust, and terrorist and extremist threats in the region.

South Korea: "Silk Road Express"

In October 2013, the then South Korean President Park Geun-hye proposed building a "Silk Road Express" to connect railways in South Korea, Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Russia, China, Central Asia and Europe, and create an energy network of power grids and gas and oil pipelines in Eurasia.

This is a core element of South Korea's "Eurasia Initiative," which intends to integrate rail, roads, ports and aviation into a unified system of logistics solutions.

The "Silk Road Express" project has, however, been put on the back burner due to the troubled relationship between the two neighbors on the Korean peninsula, and the difficulties in implementing the Eurasia Initiative.

Meanwhile, the government and businesses of South Korea, a close neighbor of China, are showing growing interest in China's Belt and Road Initiative.

Japan: Silk Road diplomacy

The concept of Japan's Silk Road diplomacy was first introduced in 1997 by Hashimoto Ryutaro, a former Japanese Prime Minister, to ensure Japan's access to diverse sources of energy supply.

The plan covers the eight countries in Central Asia and the Caucasus, referred to as the "Silk Road region," and places them high on Japan's new foreign policy agenda. This Silk Road diplomacy has since defined Japan's diplomatic engagement with Central Asia.

The objective of this strategy is twofold: to ensure diverse sources of energy supply by securing access to the treasure house of Central Asia (which has larger reserves of oil than the Middle East) so as to protect Japan's economic interests; and to establish a strong geopolitical presence in Central Asia and the Caucasus.

In 2004, Japan's Silk Road diplomacy gained new momentum with the launch of the "Central Asia Plus Japan" dialogue in an effort to increase Japan's political influence and economic penetration and gain a leading role in energy development and trade in Central Asia.

In 2012, Japan provided US$21.91 million worth of government development assistance to build roads, airports, bridges, power plants and canals in the Silk Road region.

In October 2015, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Mongolia and five Central Asian countries with the mission of reinvigorating the "Central Asia Plus Japan" dialogue focusing on cooperation in transport and logistics.

These moves have been interpreted as Japan's attempt to counter China's Central Asia policy.

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


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