China’s BRI Has Fundamentally Transformed Global Geopolitics

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), announced by President Xi Jinping in Astana, Kazakhstan, in September 2013, has fundamentally transformed global geopolitics. Even organizations with a Western perspective, such as the London-based Center for Economic and Business Research, acknowledge its impact.

Photo Credit: The Cradle

It is important to recognize that the US/NATO proxy war against Russia in Ukraine is simultaneously a war designed to interrupt the progress of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

As we approach the 10th anniversary of the BRI, to be marked by the third Belt and Road Forum later this year in Beijing, it is clear the original Silk Road Economic Belt – announced by President Xi Jinping in Astana, Kazakhstan, in September 2013 – has traveled a long way.

By January this year, 151 nations had already signed up to the BRI: No less than 75 percent of the world’s population that represents more than half of the global GDP. Even an Atlanticist outfit such as the London-based Center for Economic and Business Research admits that the BRI may increase global GDP by a whopping $7.1 trillion a year by 2040, dispensing “widespread” benefits.

Included in the Chinese Constitution since 2018, BRI constitutes the de facto overarching Chinese foreign policy framework all the way to 2049, marking the centenary of the People’s Republic of China.

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The BRI advances along several overland connectivity corridors – from the Trans-Siberian to the “middle corridor” along Iran and Turkiye and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) all the way to the Arabian Sea. Meanwhile, on the waterways front, the Maritime Silk Road offers a parallel network from southeast China to the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, the Swahili Coast, and the Mediterranean Sea.

All that is mirrored by the Russian-driven Northern Sea Route, connecting the eastern and western sides of the Arctic, and reducing to and fro sailing time from Europe to Asia from one month to less than two weeks.

Such a massive Make Trade Not War project, centered on connectivity, infrastructure building, sustainable development, and diplomatic acumen – focusing on the Global South – could not but be interpreted by western elites as a supreme geopolitical and geoeconomic threat.

And that’s why every geopolitical turbulence across the chessboard is directly or indirectly linked to BRI. Including Ukraine.

“A brand new choice”

At the Lanting Forum in Shanghai last month, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang was at ease presenting to a select foreign audience the key outlines of “modernization, the Chinese way” and how it can be applied across the Global South.

For their part, Global South experts had a chance to dwell on the motives underneath the collective west’s constant “threat” paranoia. The bottom line is that for the US and its vassal allies, it is anathema that Beijing – based on its own success – is offering an alternative development model compared to the sole product on the market since 1945.

Former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, currently the new president of the Shanghai-based New Development Bank (NDB) – the BRICS bank – explained to the forum how neoliberalism was forced onto Latin America as a false path towards economic success. The Chinese model, on the other hand, as she stressed, now offers a “brand new choice,” which respects national peculiarities.

Zhou Qiangwu, the Chinese vice president of NDB, expects that this will push the IMF and the World Bank to give the Global South more say in their decision-making as part of new “governance solutions.”

Yet that’s unlikely to happen because the US and its vassals are not mentally prepared to get rid of their baggage of centuries-old prejudice and sit down at the same table with Global South representatives and accept them as equals as well as qualified stakeholders.

The Global South though, waits for no one. Round tables are already following each other at dizzying speed. A key case was the May 18-19 China-Central Asia summit in the former imperial capital, Xi’an, when President Xi met with the presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan – the five former USSR republics in the Heartland.

That followed Russian President Vladimir Putin meeting the same five “stans” in Moscow on the extremely significant 9 May, Victory Day.

Diplomatically, that suggests an already evolving 5+2 axis uniting Russia, China, and the five stans operating via their own secretariat in a slightly different manner from BRI, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU).

And why is that? Because of a problem that will be afflicting all of these new multilateral Global South-led organizations: Internal frictions.

And that brings us to the presence of India inside the SCO, an organization that privileges consensus in every decision.

That’s a huge issue when in contrast with the intractable India-Pakistan conflict, and even more sensitive when it comes to New Delhi’s wobbling stance regarding Quad and AUKUS. At least the Indians have not totally submitted to NATO in its hybrid war against Russia-China and its dream of dictating terms in the Indo-Pacific.

In a significant development, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Investment signed a $5.6 billion deal with a Shanghai-based electric vehicle company to develop EVs (Electric Vehicles).

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