Silk Road

Explainer

China’s New Silk Road: a power play or partnership opportunity?

By Shannon Longworth (Reporter), Mack Pittman (Editor)

As China builds the Belt and Road Initiative–a new trade route similar to the Silk Road–President Xi Jinping touted the country’s power at an event marking the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party on Thursday.

“We have never bullied, oppressed, or enslaved the people of any other country, and we never will,” Xi said. “By the same token, we will never allow any foreign force to bully, oppress, or enslave us.”

SHANNON: A PORT IN ITALY, A TRAIN STATION IN SRI LANKA, AN INDUSTRIAL PARK IN UZBEKISTAN. BUT GET THIS—THEY’RE ALL A PART OF CHINA.

CHINA’S NEW SILK ROAD, THAT IS.

ITS OFFICIAL NAME?

THE BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE.

A 900 BILLION DOLLAR UNDERTAKING TO BUILD PORTS, RAILWAYS, ROADS, AIRPORTS, POWER GRIDS AND ECONOMIC HUBS IN MORE THAN 60 COUNTRIES.

HERE’S WHAT IT WOULD LOOK LIKE, AND THE COUNTRIES IT WOULD CONNECT.

CHINA IS ALREADY THE GLOBAL GIANT WHEN IT COMES TO MANUFACTURING, IT PRODUCES NEARLY A THIRD OF THE WORLD’S GOODS, ACCORDING TO THE WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM.

THIS NEW SILK ROAD WOULD OPEN UP EVEN MORE MARKETS FOR GOODS FROM CHINA AND OTHER COUNTRIES AND MAKE SHIPPING THEM FASTER AND CHEAPER.

IT’S NOT JUST HUGE FOR CHINA.

HE WORLD BANK SAYS, WHEN IT’S DONE, THE PROJECT WILL LIFT NEARLY 40 MILLION PEOPLE OUT OF POVERTY.

BUT SOME CONSERVATIVES LIKE U-S SENATOR RICK SCOTT OF FLORIDA ARE WORRIED.

HE SAYS THE REAL GOAL FOR CHINA IS “TO EXTEND ITS CONTROL OVER OTHER NATIONS AND ADVANCE IT’S QUEST FOR WORLD DOMINATION.”

SOUND FAMILIAR?

IF YOU’VE BEEN WATCHING NETFLIX LATELY, YOU KNOW ABOUT MARCO POLO — HE’S THE ONE WHO MADE THE ORIGINAL GREAT SILK ROAD FAMOUS.

IT CONNECTED TRADE ROUTES FROM CHINA TO EUROPE MORE THAN 800 YEARS AGO.

TO GET THE NEW SILK ROAD DONE, CHINA IS OFFERING COUNTRIES CHEAP LOANS TO PAY FOR THE WORK.

BUT CRITICS SAY—THAT’S EXACTLY THE POTENTIAL PROBLEM.

BECAUSE WHAT HAPPENS IF COUNTRIES CAN’T PAY BACK CHINA?

WHEN SRI LANKA COULDN’T AFFORD TO MAINTAIN THEIR CHINESE-BUILT PORT — THEY LEASED IT TO CHINA FOR 99 YEARS.

NOW, SOME WORRY IT COULD BECOME A CHINESE NAVAL HUB–MEANING THE SILK ROAD COULD POSE NOT JUST AN ECONOMIC ISSUE, BUT A SECURITY ISSUE TOO.

WHEN ITALY JOINED THE PROJECT, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO SAID THIS: “THE CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY IS TRYING TO LEVERAGE ITS ECONOMIC PRESENCE IN ITALY TO SERVE ITS OWN STRATEGIC PURPOSES”

AND WHEN YOU LOOK AT ALL THE COUNTRIES INVOLVED, AND WHERE THEY’RE LOCATED.

WE’RE TALKING ABOUT MORE THAN HALF THE WORLD’S POPULATION AND A THIRD OF THE GLOBAL GDP, ACCORDING TO THE MCKINSEY CONSULTING GROUP.

COULD ANYTHING SLOW DOWN CHINA’S PLAN?

AUSTRALIA RECENTLY BACKED OUT OF THE BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE.

AND THE U-S AND MOST OF THE G-7 IS LOOKING TO OFFER AN ALTERNATIVE, CALLED THE “BLUE DOT PROGRAM.”

JEFF SMITH: “WE MAY NOT BE ABLE TO MATCH THE CHINESE INVESTMENT FOR INVESTMENT. BUT WE CAN MAKE SURE THAT THEY’RE NOT ALWAYS THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN.”

SO, IS THE SILK ROAD SIMPLY A POWER PLAY FOR CHINA?

EVEN CONSERVATIVES SAY THE ANSWER ISN’T BLACK AND WHITE.

JEFF SMITH: “JUST BECAUSE THERE ARE ISSUES THAT CONCERN US ABOUT THE BELT AND ROAD DOESN’T MEAN IT’S INCAPABLE OF PRODUCING ANY BENEFIT.”

OKAY, A LITTLE COMPLICATED.

SO WHAT DO YOU THINK?

LET US KNOW WITH THE BIAS METER AND IN THE COMMENTS.

Straight Arrow Bias Meter™ rating: conservative
ElideguyAugust 4, 2021, 9:33am CT

Never trust China. There's no way they're building this infrastructure out of the goodness of their hearts. They want communism to rule the world.

Comments are still pending approval. Rate this story to add your own thoughts below.

Comments are still pending approval. Rate this story to add your own thoughts below.

Straight Arrow Bias Meter™ rating: conservative
ElideguyAugust 4, 2021, 9:33am CT

Never trust China. There's no way they're building this infrastructure out of the goodness of their hearts. They want communism to rule the world.

lock

Watch the video to unlock rating

Your Rating

Rating closes in 4 days

Total User Rating

eye icon

Rate to reveal

Community ratings are revealed after you rate the story.

comment bubbles

As China builds the Belt and Road Initiative–a new trade route similar to the Silk Road–President Xi Jinping touted the country’s power at an event marking the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party on Thursday.

“We have never bullied, oppressed, or enslaved the people of any other country, and we never will,” Xi said. “By the same token, we will never allow any foreign force to bully, oppress, or enslave us.”

Community Rating

Community ratings are revealed after you rate the story.

lock

Watch the video to unlock rating

Rate the bias

Keep us honest! Let us know if you thought this video was neutral or biased.

Straight Arrow Bias Meter™ rating: conservative
ElideguyAugust 4, 2021, 9:33am CT

Never trust China. There's no way they're building this infrastructure out of the goodness of their hearts. They want communism to rule the world.