Xi Jinping’s third term: After a decade of building the Belt and Road, where does China stand?

“Labeled as China’s ‘strong man’ after Mao Zedong, Xi has proven to be a different type of Chinese leader.

“Through his steady consolidation of power within the party and the country’s political system, he has shown his ambition and growing confidence in pursuing the BRI on the global stage – in which none of his predecessors or other countries are standing. is engaged,” she said.

For China, the BRI marked a departure from Deng Xiaoping’s “taoguang yanghui (keep a low profile)” strategy to adopt the “yousuo zuowei (achieve something)” strategy, Dr Nur Shahadah said.

“Thus, one can notice that Xi’s style is more proactive and confident,” she said.

However, there has been skepticism about Beijing’s motives.

“Why is China so nice to us? is a frequently asked question to Chinese hosts during academic exchanges, shared Prof. Cheng Ming Yu, Chairman of the Belt and Road Strategic Research Center at Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) Malaysia.

And China’s answer is simply: “For a win-win development”.

“Only when you grow up can we grow up. We have to grow together,” Professor Cheng said.

“China cannot prosper if people cannot buy what they produce. It is better to make other countries develop at the same time, then China can transfer its technology and continue to sell its products.

CONTROVERSIES AND CRITICISM

By emphasizing infrastructure connectivity and unhindered trade, the BRI has the potential to significantly improve trade, foreign investment and the living conditions of people in participating countries, a World Bank study has suggested. in 2019.

With the infrastructure in place, travel times could be reduced by up to 12% along the economic corridors, while those with the rest of the world are expected to decrease by an average of 3%.

Trade would also increase between 2.8 and 9.7 percent for the Belt and Road Corridor economies and between 1.7 and 6.2 percent for the world, the study added.

The caveat, however, was that China and countries must adopt policy reforms that increase transparency, expand trade, improve debt sustainability and mitigate environmental, social and corruption risks.

According to the report, a quarter of Belt and Road economies already have high levels of debt, and medium-term vulnerabilities could increase for a handful of them.

China’s critics have long described the initiative as a debt trap that drowns countries in unsustainable debt as Beijing exerts undue influence over them, not to mention sovereignty and security concerns.

Jennifer C. Burleigh