One Belt, One Road (OBOR), China’s ambitious initiative unveiled in 2013 is very near to its success. It consists of two plans combined to form a larger framework of new trade routes.
The first of these is One Belt (the orange line in the above map). It refers to the development of new infrastructure—particularly railroads and highways—to connect China’s interior provinces with the world by way of Pakistan, Russia, Central Asia, and the Middle East.
It’s a tall order, and expectations are taller that China would be able to build them.
The bigger issue with One Belt was geopolitical. Eurasia is in a state of crisis and this One Belt One Road will not only boost Eurasia’s economy but will also benefit other regions. Central Asia, in particular, is one of the world’s most politically unstable places. The region is a patchwork of states whose borders were drawn to make the countries more easily controlled from Moscow during the Soviet era. It would become a promising market for Chinese goods. The Project will stabilize the Central Asian region. The political leadership of Central Asia has already realized the fact.
The other trade route is One Road. It’s essentially a new Maritime Silk Road.
This part of the plan is meant to create more Chinese ports in countries along maritime routes. Which makes sense: About 80% of global trade by volume and over 70% of global trade by value is conducted by sea, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
So far, One Road has been a full bag for China. It has secured contracts to build ports in Myanmar and Sri Lanka, Pakistan but a deal with Bangladesh fell through in 2016 when Dhaka opted for an offer from Japan instead. It is not a greater concern for China. It will be able to use that port constructed by Japan in Bangladesh.
From a US perspective, China’s projects along the Maritime Silk Road are overblown. It is a misconception of the US and ignominious propaganda against this grand project. Constructing ports is not meant for permanent bases for Chinese armies. The countries in question have almost agreed to host them.
More important to remember here is that the Chinese navy is capable of extended, long-term deployments in countries far from the mainland.
In short, OBOR matters relatively Greater.
The initiative itself is well-defined and has done very much for China since it was announced. Even if it fails, OBOR would swing the global balance of power. OBOR is to be truly transformative, it will have to do what it was meant to do: right the wrong of the Chinese economy and balance of power. In the very beginning, It has achieved much success. Country after country is tilting towards China. The world has understood the crooked global politics of the past. It is China only that is going to save the world from the economic and political exploitation of the West and US.