Gulliver is coming

1.-Our contributor Oriol Caudevilla published in March an article about the advantages that the “Belt and Road Initiative”  – ​​better known as “The Silk Road” –  could have for Hong Kong. You can read it here: ***. We are in the face of a colossal international investment project. Every time I hear about this route, Berlanga’s immortal film “Bienvenido Mr. Marshall” (“Welcome Mr. Marshall”) comes to my mind:

That Andalusian village of forced and artificial folklore could today be any of the more than seventy countries that have already signed program documents or specific plans and public works with the Asian giant. Together, a rain of millions related with rail, sea and road routes that will make China, as it was in the past, the world’s first economic power. Apart from the courtship with Russia and the important expansion in Africa, is particularly  remarkable the agreement with Italy. The two countries are linked by a  “Memorandum of Understanding” signed by Giusseppe Conte and Xi Jinping. It is a treaty with little immediate legal efficacy, but really outstanding for diplomatic purposes. Conte said that “the memorandum is a non-binding framework agreement” and added that  “it is not an international accord“. The text can be consulted here: ***.

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2.-Without doubt, the most spectacular project is the Europe’s rail connection with China. However, the strategy is much broader, as described on the Asia Green Real Estate website:

The BR initiative is arguably one of the most significant global economic development plans in history. The coverage area of the initiative is immense – it involves 68 countries equaling two-thirds of the word’s population, one-third of the world’s GDP, and the logistics of one quarter of the world’s goods and services. Most of the Eurasian continent as well as Eastern Africa is included in the initiative.

President Xi initially introduced the concept in 2013, expanding on the idea of the ancient Silk Road trade routes to strengthen the region’s infrastructure and economy. Today, the BR initiative has expanded and consists of two major parts of modern trading routes – the Silk Road Economic Belt and the Maritime Silk Road stretching across multiple countries and regions.

When initially introduced, the BR plan was perceived as a Chinese initiative. At that time, the vice-director of China’s State Council’s Development Research Center (Zhang Junkuo) said “the Silk Road idea is aimed at broadening the channels for China’s westward development, while it may also create new opportunities for accelerating economic transformation in the country.” However, over the years, the initiative has clearly evolved into a collective international effort to broaden growth and foster globalization. Whilst all participating countries will benefit from the BR initiative, China is expected to relatively gain the most in terms of economic and political influence as a result.

Another good summary is  this video from  DW News:

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3.-Of course, Spain is affected by the project and some specific steps have been taken, but without reaching the level of Italian collaboration. On the other hand, the penetration of Chinese investors in our land is for now reduced (but is growing very fast).

European countries are worried by various fears. First of all, economic analysts have warned the trade imbalance with China, which the “Belt and Road Initiative” can aggravate. Secondly, the US diplomatic pressures against the Asian project are not for the faint-hearted. On the other hand, some critics have referred to the implacable dictatorial nature of the Chinese communist regime. Distant voices, in small Asian countries, remember that “one day, trains will carry weapons and armies” and others doubt about environmental effects. For all these reasons, Xi Jinping diplomats are now transforming the initial idea in a more acceptable example of multilateralism, singing from the same hymn sheet.

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Acerca de Joan Amenós Álamo

Professor de Dret Administratiu
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