Military bases are needed only to ensure the security of economic projects in the framework of the initiative “One Belt - One Way”?

Military bases are needed only to ensure the security of economic projects in the framework of the initiative “One Belt - One Way”?

By Arthur Dunn


According to the US military, China can start building new military bases to ensure the security of its economic projects as part of the One Belt, One Way Initiative. The argument of this opinion is the recently opened Chinese military base in Djibouti. The Chinese authorities report that they have already signed agreements with the “One Belt and One Road” initiative with 150 countries and international organizations. Russia offered China to “pair” its Northern Sea Route with a similar Chinese project.
The US military claims that Beijing is using China’s growing economic, diplomatic, and military prestige to establish regional supremacy and expand its international influence. And it is believed that China’s progress in implementing the “One Belt - One Way” initiative could lead to
military bases to ensure the safety of such an initiative.

Experts suggest that after the opening of the base in Djibouti, China will receive a base in Pakistan. It is emphasized that such activity should be viewed in the context of the tendency of expanding the Chinese naval presence in the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean and the future changing role of China in matters of global and regional security, which has been observed for a number of years.
In addition, the PRC can deploy bases in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific. The Pentagon believes that China already has experience in creating military bases in disputed territories in the South China Sea.
Particular attention is paid to Beijing transport routes in the Arctic, which the Russian Federation considers a zone of their interests. China calls its plans in the Arctic the “Polar Silk Road” initiative. The State Council of China published last year a white paper on China’s Arctic policy.
Moscow understands that it is no longer possible to maintain a monopoly on the Northern Sea Route. Therefore, Russian President Vladimir Putin at a recent forum in Beijing said that Moscow is considering the possibility of joining the Northern Sea Route with the Chinese Sea Silk Road. According to the Russian president, Russia pays great attention to the development of the Northern Sea Route. The possibility is being considered of connecting it and the Chinese Maritime Silk Road, thereby creating a global and competitive route linking Northeast, East and Southeast Asia with Europe.

Among the objectives of the “One Belt and One Way” initiative is the promotion of social and political dialogue between partner countries with the help of economic instruments. The PRC declaratively refuses to interfere in the internal affairs of the partner countries. In 2014, Xi Jinping proposed a “new concept of Asian security,” according to which regional security problems should be solved without the intervention and intrusion of external factors. However, with the expansion of the zone of Chinese economic interests in the policy of non-intervention, failures are increasingly occurring. it suffices to recall the "triangle" China - Sudan - Darfur. It will be increasingly difficult for China to maintain neutrality in relations between the countries participating in the One Belt and One Way Project. Especially with the growth of investment in their economies. According to experts, a number of political and economic systems carry additional risks for Chinese investments.

European states are participating in the development of new transport corridors in Eurasia and in the transformations of the global financial system initiated by China. This does not arouse enthusiasm in the United States and Japan, which simply impede them. The American concept of “a turn to Asia” in China is regarded as a “policy of containment”, examples of which are the exception to the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, the blocking of the development of the New Silk Road project, etc. In China, they fear the influence of the United States on the spread of separatism (Tibet, Inner Mongolia) and even a possible blockade from the sea. The development of transcontinental supply routes may be one of the answers to a possible "containment in the east."
The PRC's contacts with the countries of the “One Belt and One Road” countries should help solve security problems by combining efforts in the fight against the so-called “Three evils” (“three evil forces”) - terrorism, separatism and religious extremism. The implementation of many projects in China is hampered by separatist movements both within it and in neighboring states: the SREV transport corridors must pass through potentially dangerous areas of operation of armed formations. It is hoped that security cooperation with the participating countries of this Chinese initiative can reduce the level of terrorist threats emanating from Central and South Asia and counteract piracy in the South China Sea and the Malacca Strait.

It remains an open question whether the initiative will alleviate the territorial disputes with Vietnam (Spartley archipelago and Paracel Islands) and the Philippines (Scarborough reef). ASEAN and India are concerned about Chinese port infrastructure modernization projects in Pakistan (Gwadar), Bangladesh, Myanmar, Australia (Darwin) and Sri Lanka (Hambantota). Some Western experts are convinced of the existence of the Chinese deterrence plan (primarily India) - the so-called. the strategy of “String of pearls”: gaining control over the strategically important ports in the Indian and Pacific Ocean will be, in their opinion, the starting point for the deployment of a network of naval bases.
Other risks are worth mentioning, such as possible exacerbation of conflicts between third countries in new zones of Chinese economic expansion. As an example, the “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor” passing through the northern part of Kashmir (Gilgit-Baltistan), which India claims. By investing in this disputed territory, China, in fact, recognizes the right to it to official Islamabad.

The One Belt and One Road Initiative, announced by the Chinese leadership in 2013, has become one of the key elements of the foreign policy and foreign economic course of the PRC, and programs developed within its framework are designed to determine the development of China and its partner countries for many years to come. The broad conceptual framework allows us to relate a number of projects both domestically and abroad to the “One Belt and One Road” strategy. Funding for these projects will have to be provided by specialized funds and banks, whose work involves the world's leading powers. A key aspect of the implementation of the initiative is the modernization of transport infrastructure to expand China’s exports and increase the economic potential of its underdeveloped territories. This process in China will continue to be associated with changes in the situation and the transformation of international relations.



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