- The new Chinese leadership plans reviving the Maritime Silk Route (MSR) to reshape the country’s economic system through external cooperation, a “Deng Xiaoping Moment 2.0.” which will be consequential to regional stability and global peace.
- Reviving the ancient MSR (old Silk Route to build the new one) is the first global strategy for enhancing trade by improving connectivity with Southeast Asia, South Asia, West Asia & even Africa, by building a network of port cities along the Silk Route, linking the economic hinterland in China and fostering peace.
- Beijing is concerned with U.S. ‘pivot’ policy in the Asia-Pacific region.
- While celebrating the 10th ASEAN-China strategic partnership, the idea was underlined to re-establish the old seaway into a 21st century MSR for stronger economic cooperation, closer cooperation on joint infrastructure projects, security cooperation, and strengthening maritime economy, environment, technical and scientific cooperation.
- MSR could be an attempt to counter the “string of pearls” argument. China’s vision to re-energize the MSR is to bring re-assurance to their commitment for world peace by solving maritime disputes and bringing opportunities to Asia and the world, rather than posing a threat.
- The “2+7” formula of cooperation — entails consensus on 2 issues: deepening strategic trust & exploring neighborly
friendship, & economic development based on mutual benefits &, 7 proposals — signing China-ASEAN good neighbor treaty; more effective use of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area & intensive Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations; acceleration of joint infrastructure projects; stronger regional financial and risk-prevention cooperation; closer maritime cooperation; enhanced collaboration on security; and more intensive people-to-people contacts along with increased cultural, scientific and environmental protection cooperation.
- China aims to establish an Asian Infrastructural Investment Bank to provide a strong investment and financing platform for multimodal connectivity for building high-speed rail, roads, ports, airports, within related countries. Steps are to be taken to develop extensive transport networks and energy corridors through such initiatives.
- MSR will also be helpful in promoting certain strategic objectives — showcasing one’s maritime power by other naval powers.
- India and many other countries are studying implications of this bold policy statement carefully.
- Chinese silk route envoys from countries in Southeast, South, and West Asia and Europe were dispatched to establish good relations with China. These countries including Rome were among the earliest to come by sea to China seeking diplomatic relations bringing treasures to China, while Chinese hosts presented them with colored silk in return.
- Historically,the MSR was divided into 2 main sectors: lands “above the wind” (ports in the Indian Ocean) and lands “below the wind” (the straits of Malacca, the South China Sea, the Java Sea, and further east). Long-distance voyaging along these routes were possible as Shipbuilding and navigation in China were advanced, and Chinese navigators had ability to predict monsoons.
- The MSR places China in the ‘middle’ of the “Middle Kingdom” and is an effort in initiating a ‘grand strategy’ with global implications for trade, peace and friendship rather than create new naval rivalries or power displays.
- South China Sea
- ASEAN China Relations
- New Maritime Silk Route (MSR)
- “2+7” formula of cooperation
- US ‘pivot’ policy in the Asia-Pacific region