ABOUT ONE BELT, ONE ROAD (OBOR) INITIATIVE
One belt one road, also known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a project initiated by the Chinese President Xi Jinping. Its objective is to build trade routes between China and the countries in Central Asia, Europe and Indo-Pacific littoral countries. (Littoral countries means situated on the shore of Indian and the Pacific Ocean).
OBOR/ BRI is a network of roads, railways, oil pipelines, power grids, ports and other infrastructural projects meant to connect China to the world.
It was announced in the year 2013 with an objective to rejuvenate the ancient trade routes connecting Asia to Europe. (known as the Silk Road or the Silk Route).
The OBOR initiative has been bifurcated into two parts:
Six economic corridors and one maritime route have been proposed under the OBOR:
1. New Eurasian Land Bridge. (connect Western China to Western Russia)
2. China – Mongolia – Russia Corridor (North China to Eastern Russia via Mongolia)
3. China – Central Asia – West Asia Corridor (Western China to Turkey via Central and West Asia
4. China – Indochina Peninsula Corridor (Southern China to Singapore via Indo-China)
5. China – Pakistan Corridor (South Western China to and through Pakistan)
6. Bangladesh – China – India – Myanmar Corridor (Southern China to India via Bangladesh and Myanmar)
7. Maritime Silk Road connecting Coastal China to the Mediterranean via Singapore-Malaysia, the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Strait of Hormuz.
As we can see, OBOR is an ambitious project and it encompasses almost 65 countries. China has planned around $1 trillion of investment in various infrastructure projects by providing loans to the countries involved at a low cost.
OBJECTIVES OF CHINA BEHIND THIS INITIATIVE
CHALLENGES FACED BY CHINA
BENEFITS FOR THE OTHER COUNTRIES INVOLVED
But, we should not be too optimistic about the success of OBOR as Chinese investments had led to political backlashes in the past. Charges of environmental degradation and labour exploitation were levelled against them.
Also, the loans might be cheap but they come with riders. The countries have to source material from China which results in an increase of cost of borrowing.
Lastly, it is not sure whether the poor countries will be able to benefit from greater trade as they already run a hugeTrade deficit with China.
India has boycotted the OBOR initiative due to the following reasons:
India has much to lose out in terms of economic boost through greater integration with other countries. India also risks isolation as all its neighbouring countries (apart from Bhutan) are a part of this initiative. To mitigate the damage, it should build ties with other countries and increase its spending on infrastructure.
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