“Belt and Road” not reaction to U.S. Pivot to Asia








BEIJING  |   2015-02-13 20:00:29


“Belt and Road”

not reaction to U.S. Pivot to Asia


By Wang Xiaopeng



Rather than seeking regional dominance, China’s plans to build an East-West trade network across the Asian continent are pacifist in nature because of their inclusiveness and aim at mutual benefit.

Western media outlets have portrayed the proposals as a counterweight to the U.S. “Pivot to Asia” strategy of rebalancing its resources towards the Asia-Pacific. But they should note two historical episodes related to the Silk Road, the planned network’s forebear. One features Zhang Qian, who spread Chinese culture when exploring the routes and brought into China products including grapes and sesame two thousand years ago.

The other concerns admiral Zheng He and his fleet’s seven voyages overseas, the longest of which took him to the eastern African coast over the equator. On these expeditions, Zheng carried with him not blood and fire but porcelain, silk and tea.

As an effort to revive the ancient routes of peace and exchange that the two luminaries explored, the “Silk Road Economic Belt” and the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” initiatives — referred to collectively as the “Belt and Road” — do not challenge the fronts of Washington’s trademark policy, which is widely seen as an effort to ensure U.S. hegemony and security interests remain unchallenged in the region.

To achieve that goal, the United States plans to deploy 60 percent of its fleet in the Pacific, and equip the Pacific Command with the most cutting-edge capabilities by 2020, in addition to increasing its diplomatic and economic resources in the region.

Instead of seeking to establish an enlarged military presence that is likely to complicate the regional security situation, China’s proposals are purely about infrastructure, trade and economic cooperation, a vision very much in the same vein as those of Zhang and Zheng.

That’s why the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which was founded to finance infrastructure construction and promote regional interconnections, is popular among countries along the Silk Road routes, with the number of founding members rising to 26 since October.

In addition, China will contribute 40 billion U.S. dollars to set up the Silk Road Fund, which will be used to help projects related to connectivity for countries along the routes.

As a developing nation coping with the new normal of slower economic growth, the vision, proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, is also dedicated to facilitating the economic development of China’s less developed western provinces and regions, which border many Asian neighbors along the Silk Road.

More importantly, the benefits of the Belt and Road will go beyond China and its Asian neighbors. As evidenced by the Venetian merchant and traveler Marco Polo, who reached China by the route, the initiatives will boost people-to-people exchange and understanding between East and West.

At a two-day seminar that concluded on Thursday in China’s eastern city of Quanzhou, a famous ancient port visited by Marco Polo, Liu Qibao, head of the publicity department of the Communist Party of China’s Central Committee, stressed the Silk Road initiatives are bringing opportunities for common prosperity.

When considering these factors, the logic of linking the initiatives with the U.S. strategy of maintaining its influence in Asia is untenable.

Either the observers who pitched the two against each other are unwilling to see the Belt and Road initiatives go smoothly or they want to strain China-U.S. ties at a time when the two nations are aiming to build a new type of major-country relationship.









FUZHOU  |   2015-02-13 12:31:17


The Maritime Silk Route

will not be built in a day


By Zhang Zhongkai, Cheng Lu, Xia Chen and Fu Min



Rome was not built in a day, and the same holds true for the 21st Century Maritime Silk Route initiative designed to link Asia, Africa and Europe.

Connectivity is the key concept underlining the expansive route. Ports, railways, tunnels and pipelines are expected to link the countries along the route physically; a huge project needing substantial investment of time and money.

Although construction projects may have definite completion dates, cultural integration; financial and regulatory environment improvements; and social welfare development, all essential to facilitating cooperation, will likely be the more time-consuming tasks.

In addition, it will take time for the regional partners to fully embrace the initiative.

Patience is also needed to allow all parties involved to speed up domestic reforms to cultivate a sound, stable and sustainable market environment suitable for cooperation.0 Most importantly, investors, who are integral to the initiative, must earn the trust of local partners to fully unleash potential.

The Maritime Silk Route initiative has been on the cards for about 18 months, but with the gradual rolling out of a detailed development blueprint, it might take another decade or more for participants to establish concrete economic, social and cultural links.

Thus, the initiative needs time, commitment and action from all involved. Although spearheaded by China, common prosperity relies on efforts from all participants.

China is currently championing the initiative, with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday advocating the prompt establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and concrete project investment through the Silk Road Fund, which will finance the development of supporting projects.

The world’s second largest economy is undergoing painful economic restructuring amid slowing growth, but China is still determined to contribute to regional prosperity through regional cooperation because, in an increasingly interconnected world, win-win situations are of benefit to all.

Opportunity waits for no man. We need patience and, more importantly, timely, concrete action.







BEIJING  |   2015-02-13 19:14:41


Anti-corruption drive

not to blame for officials’ inactivity


By Cheng Zhuo



As China’s anti-graft campaign deepens, some have worried that it may knock officials’ morale and lead to a slackening in their work.

It should be admitted that sloth does exist among some officials, and the phenomenon seems to loom amid the country’s fight against corruption and extravagance.

Such problems may have resulted in delays in implementing important policies and reforms, and they have also harmed the image of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese government, hindering economic and social development.

However, it is also very obvious that intolerance to corruption should not be blamed for the situation.

For one thing, the reluctance of some officials to work diligently and serve the people now that their “perks” have been taken away reveals their poor awareness of the CPC spirit and responsibilities, and that is exactly what the anti-graft campaign is targeting.

For another, such problems may have long existed but have just come to light with intensified supervision and serious investigation.

Like competition regulations that only target violators without upsetting the free market, the corruption crackdown hammers only wayward officials without prejudice to those who are competent and willing to work for the public.

Instead of undermining officials’ enthusiasm, the fight against corruption, by weeding out malfeasance in officialdom, will help create an environment that encourages honest, hard work.

The country’s leaders have also noticed the problem and are paying close attention to it.

At a seminar for county-level CPC chiefs in January, President Xi Jinping stressed that officials should be responsible and committed in their work.

He said officials should be courageous in the face of challenges and should actively solve problematic issues rather than skirting around them.

Also, during a meeting on clean governance this week, Premier Li Keqiang urged officials to act on what they say and avoid empty talk.

“Those who are lazy with administrative duties and don’t make the slightest contribution to governance will be harshly punished while those who practice diligent government will be given a stage,” he said.

Among the campaign to clean up what the CPC labels “undesirable work styles”, huge numbers of workers have been named and shamed for idleness after investigation.

To better address the problem, the administrative system needs further reforms, including to officials’ performance evaluations and promotions.









BEIJING  |   2015-02-13 12:33:23


Why should China

say no to “wrong Western values”?


By Li Zhihui



The West breathed a collective sigh when Chinese education minister recently vowed to ban “wrong Western values” in universities.

Those who follow the antiquated paradigm of autocracy versus democracy will invariably label the announcement as ideological tightening and claim China is closing the door to western culture.

But this sort of conclusion, without prudent review of why the Chinese government resists these “wrong Western values” or the context of this decision, is in itself wrong.

China does not oppose the ideas of liberty, democracy, equality and human rights, which are among the core values of western culture. In fact, these concepts are included in the Constitution. However, China’s understanding of these concepts may differ to the West.

Many in the West misunderstand China, confidently predicting the fall of the Communist Party of China (CPC), they wish for the country to purge itself of its old political system, to replace it with a more western model: In this way, they believe, China would be “accepted” by the West.

There is no universal criteria to judge political values. Therefore, China must assimilate western values within its own political culture. Otherwise, it could ruin the future and fate of the entire nation.

China has always stressed the protection of human rights, which are the basic goals of countries seeking for good governance. However, it holds different values from the Western thought that human rights are natural born.

China holds that the concept of human rights depends on objective conditions, like history, traditions, and economic and social development, thus, there is no universal concept of human rights.

Unlike western countries, which pay more attention to liberty, protection of private property and other civil and political rights, China, a developing country, prioritizes the right to subsistence and development.

In addition, humans do not only have civil and political rights, but also economic, social and cultural rights.

Liberty is cherished the world over, including in China. In the political spectrum, liberty is a symbol of Western political thought that is based mainly on the individual. Chinese traditions and Marxist ideology, however, is based on collective liberalism.

Liberty also depends on objective conditions so some liberties in Western countries cannot be adapted to Chinese circumstances.

While hailing the contribution of western democracy to the development of civilization, China cannot copy another country’s political system.

China’s people’s congress system emphasizes the legislative body’s support for and supervision over the government to achieve effective decision making.

It rejected a multi-party system; the west-style “separation of powers”.

The people’s congress system serves the common interest of the masses, and is the best way to ensure the Chinese people are the true masters of their own country.

China did not just stumble upon its current political system by accident, nor did it happen by random invention.

It is a result of a laborious processes of trial and error; reflection and institutionalization. During this process, some western concepts such as multiparty elections and the separation of powers were proved unsuitable for China’ s development.

History has told the Chinese that denying the leadership of the CPC and socialism leads to chaos and stagnation.

China has no right to criticize the culture or values of other countries, but it has the right to choose its own.

When slander directed toward the leadership of the CPC and smear campaigns against socialism confusing the young in universities, why can China not say no?

Denying these “wrong Western values” does not mean China is going to limit academic freedom in universities. Instead, it is promoting educational cooperation and exchanges with foreign countries.

The exclusion of these unsuitable values will not see foreign textbooks banned in Chinese universities. Rather, China will absorb and apply all advanced cultures and thoughts from all over the world.

As for political systems, China welcomes equal discussion and study, rather than criticism or lack of consideration of others’ conditions.










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