China’s One Belt One Road, threat or a major opportunity?


Earlier this year, the first train rumbled down the tracks of a $3.4 billion electric railway connecting landlocked Ethiopia with Djibouti and its access to the Red Sea. The 750-kilometer (466 miles) line, expected to carry up to five million tons of goods per year. Around the same time on a different continent,after 18 days and 28,000 kilometers, the first-ever direct China-to-Britain freight train pulled into London. It passed through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France, finally crossing under the English Channel. Inside the 68 containers were household items, clothes, fabrics, bags and suitcases.

Two different continents, two unconnected events you might think….well no, both the trains are the result of a little known Chinese initiative called “One Belt, One Road. The 3.4 billion USD rail road connecting Djibouti to landlocked Ethiopia, was built with Chinese credit, by engineers from China Rail, and use locomotives built by CSR Zhuzhou. The Chinese locomotive that pulled into London was the latest milestone in China’s ambitions to redevelop the old “Silk Road” trade routes from Asia to Europe and a direct result of the One Belt One Road Programme. (OBOR)

When completed, the OBOR will include 60 countries, with two-thirds of the world’s population, 55% of the global GDP and 75% of global energy reserves. It will consist of 900 infrastructure projects, valued at about $1.3 trillion

So, what is this One Belt One Road, that a lot of startled western and some Indian politicians are waking up to?

I believe what we may currently be witnessing is a carving out by China of a continental-maritime geo-strategic realm constituted by ‘One Belt and One Road’ initiative.

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