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Singapore Scholar Advises China on New Silk Road Project

Zheng Yongnian, a professor at National University of Singapore offered some advice on China’s rise toward becoming an economic and investment super power through the use of the Silk Road Economic Belt. (For a description of the project, see The Diplomat at

Zheng advised China to learn from The Marshall Plan. "China … should not only study its successful experiences, but also go beyond its narrow geopolitical vision. During the process of reviving the European economy, the Marshall Plan made ​​a great contribution, and also made the U.S. the leader of the European nations."

He suggested, "China can set up a very large ‘New Silk Road Development Fund’ or ‘New Silk Road Development Bank’ through massive financial mobilization to build a solid financial foundation for the project. … The New Silk Road Development Fund can integrate China’s policies in Asia, Africa, and even Latin America … to form a grand international development program."

"China’s New Silk Road actually offers an opportunity to set up an international development agency at the central government level to coordinate all overseas economic and trade activities. Under the current system, the power of international aid and development is scattered among different government agencies, such as the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, local governments, and state-owned enterprises. … Other countries, before rising to the status of a great power, would set up similar organizations to make an effective contribution to the rise of its international image. It’s time for China to do so."

Zheng wrote, "From a strategic point of view, a more open Silk Road will help alleviate other countries’ geopolitical concerns. … China does not want to compete with other countries’ geopolitical interests, but wishes to promote economic development along the new Silk Road. This not only contributes to the sustainable economic development of China; it also contributes to the economic development of other countries and would not be perceived as a strategic threat."

"The openness should also be reflected in the implementation; that is, the development of the new Silk Road should be participatory. … First is the participation of local society, so that the community and the people can share the fruits of development. In earlier years, some of China’s practices in Africa and Latin America caused dissatisfaction and even protests. Examples include hiring Chinese workers rather than locals and paying little attention to environmental considerations. Second, the development should be open to other countries. China’s domination of the new Silk Road construction does not mean that China should have a monopoly on all of the projects. As a world power, China should carry a more open attitude, so that foreign companies can participate in this great program."

Source: Lianhe Zaobao, reprinted on Huanqiu, June 24, 2014