World leaders, including Russia’s President Putin have been attending meetings in Beijing as part of the ‘One Belt–One Road’ initiatives launched by China in 2013.
The ambitious project aims to set up transport and trade corridors that will help connect East-Asia, Eurasia and Europe, using both rail and maritime links.
China’s goals represent the most ambitious project to re-define the logistical and financial nature of world-trade since the creation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 1995.
Chinese President Xi Jinping opened the meetings saying,
“Spanning thousands of miles and years, the ancient silk routes embody the spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit.
The Silk Road spirit has become a great heritage of human civilisation”.
Russia is keenly interested in using this project to facilitate energy trade between Russia and its eastern partners including China, Mongolia, Japan and Korea.
President Putin called One Belt-One Road, named for China’s ancient silk road, a “Civilization project for the future”.
He went on to state,
“We cannot resolve modern challenges by using old approaches. We need new ideas. We need to abandon all stereotypes.
We should set a role model for the global community of how we can work together, develop together, based on equality and respect for national sovereignty based on international law and the United Nations principles”.
Turkey’s President Erdogan meanwhile said that the project would “pave the way in a new era”.
The projects logistics are immense and any project of this size will not come to fruition in a day. This is especially true as the countries leading the project seek cooperation and consent. Intimation and domination, hallmarks of western economic imperialism, are off the table.
President Xi made this abundantly clear. The Chinese President said,
“We have no intentions to meddle in the internal affairs of other countries via bringing our social system and the development model, or by imposing our will (on other states)”.
However, the political implications are clear. While the leaders of China, Russia, India, Turkey, Pakistan, Philippines, Indonesia,Vietnam, Myanmar and others gathered in Beijing, the leaders of the United States and Europe’s largest economies were notably absent. Instead, these countries sent minor officials.
The multi-polar world is moving on and going forward. What’s more is that it is doing so with neither the permission nor even the participation of western leaders.
The global future will be increasingly determined by the countries who have enthusiastically participated in the One Belt-One Road forum. Those who stayed home may see their hegemonic grip on the globe erode.
Below is a full list of representatives of each state present at the meeting:
- Afghanistan: Unspecified minister-level delegation
- Argentina: President Mauricio Macri
- Australia: Trade Minister Steve Ciobo
- Azerbaijan: Economy Minister Shahin Mustafayev
- Bangladesh: Unspecified minister-level delegation
- Belarus: President Alexander Lukashenko
- Brazil: Secretary for Strategic Affairs Hussein Ali Kalout
- Cambodia: Prime Minister Hun Sen
- Chile: President Michelle Bachelet
- China: President Xi Jinping
- Czech Republic: President Milos Zeman
- Egypt: Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil
- Ethiopia: Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn
- Fiji: Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama
- Finland: Minister of Transport and Communications of Finland Anne Berner
- France: Jean-Pierre Raffarin, chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations, Defense and Armed Forces in the French Senate
- Germany: Minister of Economic Affairs Brigitte Zypries
- Greece: Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras
- Hungary: Prime Minister Viktor Orban
- Indonesia: President Joko Widodo
- Iran: Minister of Economy and Finance Ali Tayebnia
- Italy: Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni
- Japan: LDP Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai
- Kazakhstan: President Nursultan Nazarbayev
- Kenya: President Uhuru Kenyatta
- Kyrgyzstan: President Almazbek Atambayev
- Kuwait: Minister of the Amiri Diwan Affairs Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber
- Laos: President Bounnhang Vorachith
- Malaysia: Prime Minister Najib Razak
- Maldives: Economic Minister Mohamed Saeed
- Mongolia: Prime Minister Jargaltulga Erdenebat
- Myanmar: State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi
- Romania: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Environment Gratiela Gavrilescu
- Nepal: Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara
- New Zealand: Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith
- North Korea: Confirmed to be sending an official delegation; the delegation will be led by Kim Yong-jae, the North Korean minister of external economic relations, according to a number of South Korean media reports
- Pakistan: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif
- Philippines: President Rodrigo Duterte
- Poland: Prime Minister Beata Szydło
- Russia: President Vladimir Putin
- Saudi Arabia: Minister of Energy, Industry, and Mineral Resources Khalid Al-Falih
- Serbia: Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic
- Singapore: Minister for National Development and Second Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong
- South Korea: Ambassador to China Kim Jang-soo; Park Byeong-seug, National Assembly member for the Democratic Party
- Spain: Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy
- Sri Lanka: Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe
- Switzerland: President Doris Leuthard
- Syria: unspecificed minister-level delegation
- Thailand: five ministers: Minister of Foreign Affairs Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Transportation Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, Minister of Commerce Apiradi Tantraporn, Minister of Digital for Economy and Society Pichet Durongkaveroj, and Minister of Science and Technology Atchaka Sibunruang
- Tunisia: Culture Minister Mohamed Zine El-Abidine
- Turkey: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
- UAE: Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of State and Group CEO of ADNOC
- Ukraine: unspecified official delegation
- United Kingdom: Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond
- United States: Matt Pottinger, National Security Council senior director for Asia
- Uzbekistan: President Shavkat Mirziyoyev
- Vietnam: President Tran Dai Quang
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.