New Straits Times - - Letters -

of the peo­ple who have been left be­hind by the US lo­co­mo­tive of growth.

China, see­ing all the prob­lems and pit­falls of Europe and the US, knows that it, too, would be sub­ject to the same laws of growth de­gen­er­a­tion and de­cay that led to the rise of pop­ulism, which its polity can­not man­age.

There­fore, growth must be con­stant and per­pet­ual, with no room for cycli­cal down­turns.

China has pre­pared for these down­turns through the One Belt and One Road ini­tia­tive (OBOR). It has all the hall­marks of Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping’s long play for global pre­em­i­nence.

But, it also marks an at­tempt to pre­vent China from hav­ing to go through the highs and lows of eco­nomic dis­rup­tion.

OBOR has US$240 bil­lion (RM1 tril­lion) back­ing it, with Xi pledg­ing to pump an ex­tra US$120 bil­lion into the China-bankrolled project that in­volves a huge net­work of ports, rail­ways, road and in­dus­trial parks.

With 65 coun­tries that have signed up to en­joy the fu­ture eco­nomic con­nec­tiv­ity, and fur­ther plans to in­crease OBOR to ben­e­fit other 80 coun­tries, the plan has more than the mem­ber­ship of the Or­gan­i­sa­tion of Is­lamic Co­op­er­a­tion, which has 56 mem­ber states, and the Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment com­bined.

The lat­ter pos­sesses 35 mem­ber states but they are all de­vel­oped eco-nomies.

But, OBOR is not without pit­falls.

Thus, Xi has spo­ken of the im­por­tance of op­er­a­tional­is­ing OBOR based on mar­ket prin­ci­ples; non-in­ter­ven­tion in other coun­tries’ af­fairs, and non-hege­monic ex­port of the Chi­nese model to the rest of the world, ex­cept to de­velop their in­fra­struc­ture and trade.

The aim here is to find a win­win so­lu­tion in all key points. To be sure, China knows its lim­i­ta­tions too.

De­spite na­tional reserves of US$3 tril­lion, China is aware that the devel­op­ing world may have no re­sources to fol­low China’s lead, and may have to bor­row from the World Bank and Asian De­vel­op­ment Bank.

OBOR al­lows all forms of fi­nanc­ing, even pri­vate sec­tor fi­nanc­ing and is­suance of bonds.

What China can­not do is to splurge on the world.

You can ex­pect China to ac­cept bills since the ben­e­fits will ac­crue to it any­way.

How­ever, since many devel­op­ing coun­tries that at­tended the OBOR fo­rum in Bei­jing are in the bot­tom half of the 40 per­centile, grow­ing with the rest of the world will be tough.

China must summon the deep­est spir­i­tual and moral re­source to meet its eco­nomic as­pi­ra­tions for the world too.


Alum­nus, Univer­siti Ke­bangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Se­lan­gor


OBOR has US$240 bil­lion back­ing it, with Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping pledg­ing an ex­tra US$120 bil­lion.

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