China pushes back on West’s One Belt, One Road narrative
Is OBOR "colonization" or “the China solution for global economic revival”?
With the One Belt, One Road forum hosting leaders from around the world this weekend in Beijing, the battle to define the massive global initiative is heating up.
Leading English language papers have pumped out skeptical headlines in recent weeks, such as “The Folly of Investing in China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’” from the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times’ “Is China the World’s New Colonial Power?”. The Financial Times proclaimed this week that “China’s ‘Belt and Road’ vision struggles to leave port”.
Is this skeptical portrayal of what might be the biggest overseas investment push in history fair?
Certainly the Chinese press has something to say about that, as the excitement from most corners of the world will be on display at the forum this weekend.
China’s Xinhua News Agency has been churning out headlines such as “One Belt, One Road creates a new model for globalization”, and “[OBOR] provides opportunity for Europe’s revival”, while the People’s Daily proclaimed “[OBOR] is leading a new wave of globalization”.
English language commentary from Xinhua last week asked the question, “Why do Western commentators look at China’s Belt and Road Initiative with Cold War prejudice?” The article cites Western critics that have compared OBOR to the US-led Marshall Plan for post-World War II reconstruction and the 19 th century Great Game, during which Britain and Russia competed for control of central Asia.
The Chinese press has emphasized Beijing’s insistence that OBOR investments represent a win-win opportunity for China and other countries involved. The enthusiasm shown by the 29 world leaders attending the forum this weekend is proof that many agree, especially at a time when the US appears to be receding from the world stage.
Many Western media outlets write that they are worried, from an investment point of view, that the initiative will falter. But it seems likely that many in the West are more worried about the initiatives’ success.