many urban billboards across the country the hoopla last Summer surrounding

Many urban billboards across the country the hoopla

This preview shows page 31 - 32 out of 38 pages.

many urban billboards across the country, the hoopla last Summer surrounding President Xi Jinping’s first ‘global’ summit to celebrate his signature ‘Belt-Road’ (formerly ‘One Belt-One Road’) Initiative.Try as he might, however, Xi's excessive political ambitions for his pet project are precluding China's own secret sauce for success. Kudos to the Chinese for their willingness through this effort, which will run in parallel with their new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, to step up to the plate and make commitments to a large number of poor emerging markets across a huge geographic space to stimulate trade and investment to help spur economic development activities so desperately needed. But if what actually transpired at the Beijing event, and over the several weeks before and the many months since, is an indication of the ease with which Xi’s program, sometimes referred to by the Chinese authorities as the “New Silk Road”, will deliver its hyped promises, Mr. Xi, and perhaps most important to him, his legacy, which will be significantly colored by the success or failure of this initiative, are in for a very bumpy ride. Worse still are the potential deleterious impacts external to China. Beijing’s true motives are being seriously questioned by a growing number of the targeted beneficiaries. They’re not buying the notion that the initiative is simply a vehicle for Beijing’s exercise of 'soft-power'. Rather the sheer feasibility of the plan’s implementation—from a technical, financial and policy perspective — is increasingly viewed as wildly exaggerated. In no small way, these anxieties are exacerbated by serious doubts about the current health of the Chinese economy. Regrettably, many observers and policy-makers, bothin Beijing and some of the sharpest ‘China-watchers’ around the world, continue to believe — falsely — that the economic downdraft is a transitory, cyclical phenomenon rather than a secular problem, whose solution will require fundamental, structural — perhaps existential — reforms. In fact, as discussed earlier in this space, the Belt-Road Initiative is not based on China’s altruistic motives. Rather it is a vehicle to exportthe excess capacity of the Party’s lumbering state-owned enterprises (on which it is holding for dear life) and to gain control over the importation of raw material inputs so desperately needed to fuel the Chinese economy. On top of that there is serious concern among China’s neighbors that Beijing has been given carte blanche to rig trade patterns in the region since the Trump team in the White House pulled theplug on the U.S.-championed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. Indeed, the TPP stemmed from a desire to deepen U.S. involvement in trade with 11 other Pacific Rim countries — some of the most promising economies in the world — as a deliberate counterweight to China. The result? Palpable fear that the ‘New Silk Road’ will end up producing a scattering of large, abandoned ‘white elephant’ projects not only in China’s immediate backyard but across the country’s supra-regional neighborhood. It
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