Brief of “One Belt-One Road: China’s Re-Engineering of the Global Business Environment”

Although almost four years have passed, the specific understanding of the “Belt and Road” initiative still exist ambiguity. This article explained this initiative by briefly exploring the logic behind it, the opportunities and potential risks ahead.

Concretely speaking, the “BRI” is an initiative that includes both land and maritime infrastructure networks of transport and trades. Abstractly speaking, this initiative is a conceptual tool for global connectivity to achieve shared value for all the countries participated in the long term. In order to reach the long term target, the “BRI” needs to take the infrastructure network as its footstone and use business as a core catalyst force for driving a better world. Compared to previous “mega regional” partnerships, “BRI” is more inclusive and cooperative in promoting globalization process and first has its eyes on driving developing countries. Such rationale will bring benefits to the operator (China), the developing countries along the “BRI” routes, and the European destinations. The author pointed out that one important benefit for China is the opportunity to export standards on transport, since China has the competitive advantages as the technology owner and potential standard proposer. Besides, from the view of Chinese investments within EU, the sectors such as technology and advanced manufacturing assets have become the focal interests since 2015. Such investments will further strengthen strategic assets of China and drive more standards exports in the future.

In terms of developing countries and richer countries in Europe, developing countries are now and will further enjoy the bonus brought by “BRI” implementation. Richer countries in Europe will also gradually realize the benefits from this initiative implementation due to the mutual trades in the coming future.

Despite these positive outcomes, the concrete implementation of “BRI” still lacks clarity. It is time to turn the concepts into actions. There are obstacles that need to surmount during the initiative implementation, including multiple operational risks in different countries and high uncertainty of the future returns. Currently, China and EU view this initiative from different perspectives as well. China holds an “explore-and-see” attitude to implement the initiative. But the EU side is more inclined to “wait-and-see” and needs more explanations on actions in proceeding with specific business cases. To reach an early consensus for both sides, it is necessary for China to promote tangible business cases and expected outcomes facilitated by this initiative.