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.