China's OBOR initiative lacks clarity: Expert

ANI | Updated: Dec 12, 2017 13:59 IST

Moscow [Russia], Dec 12 (ANI): Though there is a lot of hype being generated about China's One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, and Beijing's probable emergence as a global economic and military power, there are still questions being asked over its visibility and intrinsic merit, Russian scholar has said.

In an opinion piece published by the Carnegie Moscow Center and titled as, "Belt and Road to Where?", Senior Fellow and Chair Russia in the Asia-Pacific Program Alexander Gabuev has emphasised that China appears to lack clarity about the objectives of the OBOR initiative.

"The Belt and Road initiative lacks a clearly stated goal. In his initial presentation on the idea (then called the Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB)) in Astana, Kazakhstan September 2013, President Xi did not set any clear goals, unless one counts: "to forge closer economic ties, deepen cooperation and expand development space in the Eurasian region" or "vigorously enhance practical cooperation and be good partners of win-win cooperation," he writes.

Gabuev points out that the Silk Road Fund (SRF), which was created in 2014 as the main driver of investment in OBOR by China, is now merely being used as a political tool.

"The work of the Silk Road Fund (SRF), with its $40 billion in allocated capital, clearly illustrates this policy change. Created in 2014, the fund was slated to become the main driver of investment in OBOR, but has closed only seven deals in the past three years. Beijing now uses the SRF as a political purse: it is not linked to the global financial system, and can therefore, finance politically controversial projects, like investments in two energy projects owned by members of Putin's entourage, Yamal LNG and Sibur," Gabuev says.

He further attempts to connect the OBOR to President Xi Jinping's bid to improve China's relationship with its neighbours through economic development.

"A more nuanced variant of this approach links OBOR to Xi Jinping's ideas about "periphery diplomacy" through which China seeks to improve relationships with its neighbours by providing them with economic development, the Russian scholar writes.

In a bid to avoid the United States controlled sea lanes, China is looking for faster continental routes to Europe by upgrading infrastructure in Eurasia, Gabuev claims.

"China wants to tap into the potentially faster continental routes to Europe by upgrading infrastructure in Eurasia, and thereby also avoid sea lanes controlled by the U.S. Navy," he says.

Gabuev also mentions that scholars and thinkers around the world are clueless about the direction the OBOR initiative is heading for.

"Most Chinese officials and analysts who advise Beijing would acknowledge in private conversations, that the top leadership has not given them much positive direction about what Belt and Road actually is," he writes.

"The "Belt and Road" concept has become so inflated, that it's no longer helpful in understanding anything about China's relationship with the outside world, but only further obscures an already complicated picture," he adds.

Despite flaws, China's emergence as global power is undeniable, he concludes.

"While there may be no well-calculated and informed strategy behind Belt and Road, the increase in China's external trade, military power, overseas investment and its imprint on various fields of global governance is undeniable," says Gabuev. (ANI)