By Seddiq Hussainy
The much-touted BRI – the Belt and Road Initiative – which had been proposed by the Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 is achieving remarkably in terms of international and regional recognition and trust. More and more countries are coming in terms with the fact that the intercontinental scheme will steer a positive global change of vast proportions. A total of 126 countries and 29 international organizations have signed up for the sprawling transcontinental connectivity project.
In a CGTN live show on BRI, there was a deep discourse about how the project has helped and continues to help developing countries improve their status. The ambitious initiative is changing lives, with mega projects that not only pave the way for future intercontinental business and trade but also generate job opportunities for the local peoples. The BRI countries can chalk out their own trade course as they have unrestricted access to many countries beyond their neighborhood, where trade was almost impossible or costly in the preceding years.
China is planning to invest four trillion US dollars in 65 countries spanning from Eastern China to Western Europe, covering the continent of Africa and the countries of East and Southeast Asia. The countries will need trillions of dollars to modify their economies and build up their momentum to catch up the world’s pace; and China is only providing 10 percent of what is needed. However that investment is sufficient to orchestrate a formidable global change and help developing countries of the Eurasia and Africa achieve sustainable economies through trade.
Countries like Afghanistan that are grappling with the menace of poverty can benefit enormously from the initiative. In case of Afghanistan, the country will have a grand opportunity to export all its vast marketable goods and merchandise like rugs, dried fruits, vegetables and so much more to Central Asia, the Arab gulf, South Asia and China. This will ultimately trigger an economic boost – which is categorically the most important need of the hour for the impoverished nation.
Afghanistan can in fact benefit a lot more than any other country from the BRI initiative. There is a vast infrastructure deficit and minimal capacity to provide a healthy investment vista. China’s BRI could change the scenario in Afghanistan and help the oil-rich country build the infrastructure and prepare for large-scale trade.
The benefits of the Belt and Road Initiative are solid and long term for Afghanistan. The BRI is creating a vast connectivity on the continents of Asia, Europe and Africa, thereby providing an unparalleled opportunity for trade between countries in the region. It provides Afghanistan with the necessary infrastructure and basis for facilitating trade with other countries.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative is deemed to be the largest scale global development project as its total investment will be representing 70 percent of the world’s population, 55 percent of its GDP, and 75 percent of its energy reserves.
Dispelling the myth of BRI’s debt trap
CGTN hosted the TV show ‘Vision to Reality’ with the controversial theme of BRI’s ‘debt trap’ – a term stereotyped for China’s intentions to entrap the BRI countries by offering big loans as a pressure and coercion tool. This accusation is mostly derived from a sense of perceived danger in the west bloc about China’s economic expansionist doctrine, a threat that doesn’t exist in any proportion at all.
The realities however tell a different story. The infrastructure projects that have been or are being constructed in the BRI countries are beyond the concept of debt and are systematically about the welfare of the local population.
On a more serious note, China may not be gaining any benefit from some of the projects it constructs in the BRI countries. The long-term beneficiaries of mega infrastructure projects are the host countries and their peoples. And those benefits will definitely outweigh the amount of loan they are burdened with.
Trust and confidence in the BRI is spreading beyond China’s borders amid these accusatory propagandas about the transparency and true intentions of the intercontinental project.