MODERN SILK ROAD WILLINTRODUCE “THE GOLDEN AGE’’ OF GLOBALIZATION




İlknur Şebnem Öztemel-TDO-16.05.2017 In a unilateral meeting conducted with attendance of 29 head of states including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, ChinesePresident Xiargued that 900 billion dollars of investment for rising infrastructure capabilities from China to African continent and through Europe, ‘’ the modern silk road’’, would introduce ‘’the golden age’’ of Globalization.

He told in the conference as “The glory of the ancient Silk Road shows that geographical dispersion is not insurmountable”. Also,Jinpingcalled thisas “project of the century”.

Xigave the example of Zheng He, a Ming dynasty navigator, claimed that China now seeks to engage with other states and serve for positive relations between countries. He honored Zheng’s name and said,“These pioneers won their place in history not as conquerors with warships guns or swords but are remembered as friendly emissaries leading caravans of camels and sailing treasure-loaded ships”. Zheng made seven voyages to the western seas, brought porcelain, silk and tea, rather than bloodshed, plundering or colonialism. He is still remembered as a peace envoy in China.

Chinese efforts to build this steel silk road led positive responses in many African and Asian states. For instance, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said they see China as a model for growth. Moreover, Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister of key ally Pakistan, said “We stand at the cusp of a geo-economic revolution. In fact, this is the dawn of a truly new era of synergetic intercontinental cooperation”. Furthermore, Malaysia’s prime Minister, Najib Razak, tweeted his approval  for this “visionary and exciting” initiative. Additionally, Chile’s president, Michelle Bachelet, predicted it would “pave the way for a more inclusive, equal, just, prosperous and peaceful society with development for all”. She added “Chile is ready to become a bridge country between Asia and Latin America”. 

Besides, British chancellor, Philip Hammond, said: “I commend President Xi ... for setting in train such a bold and visionary project. This initiative is truly ground-breaking in the scale of its ambition, spanning more than 65 countries, across four continents, with the potential to raise the living standards of 70% of the global population’’. With all diplomatic kindness and British cold-blooded policy making, it seems UK apply a watch&see policy to this ‘’brave’’ and legendary project.

Despite of all these positivity in the air, there are some concerns started to be voiced especially by India and some European states.According to the Times of India, New Delhi believed the scheme was “little more than a colonial enterprise that would leave debt and broken communities in its wake’’. India is a major rival of China for regional hegemony. What’s more, some western diplomats referred their concerns about the future of the project, asking which firms will dominate the road. Whether Chinese cooperations or others? It is significant to remind that only Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni was in Beijing for the summit.

Chinese Xinhua news agency defended the initiative as “China harbors no intention to control or threaten any other nation. China needs no puppet states”and described the summit as a chance not “to assert a new hegemony, but an opportunity to bring an old one to an end”, in a recently released article.

As you know, Jinping delivered a speech in Davos, in World Economic Forum meeting strongly in favor of Globalization and global trade. Now, we see a good example of Chinese policy to lead Globalization, improve free market economy, increase wealth and its soft power. The inventors of the trend USA and UK seems to desire to isolate themselves from the harsh effects of it, as a break to relax and China plan to get more in this period. Peter Cai, a fellow from Australia’s Lowy Institute, said “The two strongest champions of globalization as I see it – the US and the UK – are both retreating genuinely or symbolically from their commitment to globalization ... I see this as presenting a good strategic opportunity for China to promote itself as the new champion of globalization”. Chinese reasons and efforts to complete this project is understandable but their success is not for sure. This is a remarkable project full of risks.