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Chinese Media on the “One Belt, One Road” Strategy

Recently, Chinese media have published several articles discussing the "One Belt, One Road" initiative, which is a major diplomacy and economic development strategy for China.

The term "One Belt, One Road" ("一带一路") refers to the "Silk Road Economic Belt" ("丝绸之路经济带"), which includes China, Central and West Asian countries, and the "21st Century Maritime Silk Road" ("21世纪海上丝绸之路"). It connects China, ASEAN member nations, South Asia, Africa, and Europe.

This combined economic zone contains a population of 4.4 billion. With 26 countries and regions, the size of its economy is $ 21 trillion. In the next ten years, China’s exports are expected to count for one third of the imports to these countries and China is likely to invest $1.6 trillion in this zone.

According to Baidu’s definition, "[this term] is not a physical entity or mechanism, but rather a concept involving cooperation and initiative. The purpose is to develop a partnership of economic cooperation between China and the countries in the zone and to build a community with political trust, economic integration, and a common fate and responsibility."

The following is a summary of key viewpoints from these media, some of which even contradict each other.

China Review News:
1. Investing in countries in this economic zone is more for political considerations than for economic reasons. In fact, many investments in Central Asia and South Asia involve infrastructure construction projects that have a low economic return. Though many countries have low labor costs, their poor infrastructure and strong labor unions jeopardize their investment environment.
2. The Southeast Asian region might be the first area in which China has a breakthrough, due to the large Chinese population and their stable political environments. Their exports of food and oil can help China to lower its security risk on food and the supply of resources.

This strategy can enable China to develop a tight economic and trade relationship and common interest partnerships with emerging economies and developed European countries. This can counter the U.S.’ "Asia-Pacific Rebalance" strategy and relieve the pressure of China’s overproduction and of its being forced into the heavy purchase of U.S. debt.

China should focus on the "belt" (land) instead of the "road" (sea). This is because on the sea side, China will face strong resistance from ASEAN countries on its exports. This relates to their own domestic policies and can’t be completely influenced by China’s investment in their countries.

Stock Times:
The globalization of the renminbi and developing renminbi offshore trading centers are critical steps in the "One Belt, One Road" plan. China has made good progress in issuing renminbi bonds, setting up renminbi offshore trading centers (e.g. in Frankfurt and London) and offshore markets (Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and London), and in signing currency swap agreements with 28 countries.

1. Baidu
2. China Review News, January 18, 2015
3. Qiushi Online, January 21, 2015
4. Xinhua, January 27, 2015
5. Stock Times Online, January 26, 2015