This remarkable trade network, unprecedented in scale and potential, now promises to stimulate
not only trade and commerce across Eurasia and Africa, but also to contribute to cultural
understanding and peaceful development.
Despite the magnitude of this project, it is widely underreported in Western media.
The Belt and Road Initiative(BRI) refers to the overland Silk Road Economic Belt and the
Maritime Silk Road a network of rail and sea connections that has the potential to
link Asia, Africa and Europe into the largest trading block on earth.
It offers the very real opportunity to increase the collective prosperity for all who partner
in this visionary enterprise.
The BRI was officially announced in the autumn of 2013 during President Xi Jinping's visits
to Kazakhstan and Indonesia.
Even more remarkable than the visionary proclamation is the fact that within a five year period,
much of the vision has already become a reality, with planning, engineering and construction
completed at a pace that could only be dreamed of in most nations.
By February 2019, already 14 000 trainloads of trade goods had passed between partners.
Ports and pipelines are in place allowing strategic supplies to bypass the primary shipping
lanes in the South China Sea and Straits of Malacca if a foreign power were to attempt
closing either of those routes, as was threatened as late as February 2013.
The BRI aims to eventually link up to 65 countries, accounting for at least 30% of the worlds
GDP, 62 % of global population and 75% of known energy reserves.
In a very real way the Belt and Road is not dissimilar from the vision expressed by Winston
Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt in the development of the Atlantic Charter in 1941.
The Charter laid out a future world order, emphasizing that
and to reduce the threat of war,
like the United Nations.
Economic development would be supported through agencies that became known as the International
Monetary Fund and World Bank, and the World Trade Organization.
Rules would be set to ensure fairness and opportunity for all to prosper, making war
The current leadership of the worlds biggest power is undoing the agencies and institutions
resulting from the Atlantic Charter, perhaps forgetting that the vision of Churchill and
Roosevelt resulted in the greatest period of global prosperity and security the world
has ever known, and also enriched the United States of America.
Now trade wars and tariffs have replaced the concept of freer trade, creating the present
China has offered a solution, one that has the potential to create a trade network in
agricultural and manufactured goods, and a flow of raw materials that will be to the
long term advantage to all.
Europe especially stands to benefit.
Recently European nations, as well as those of South and Central Asia, and Africa have
begun to embrace and agree to participate in the Belt and Road concept, seeing the potential
of flow of investment, as well as providing markets for their agricultural and manufactured
Given continued harsh rhetoric on trade coming from Washington, more and more African and
Eurasian nations are seeing the potential of this massive intercontinental network.
Recognizing the ancient Chinese cultural preference of mutually beneficial partnerships, rather
than the current western proclivity to see only competition, will prove financially and
socially more beneficial than talk of trade barriers.
Peaceful partnerships with well-defined rules will always provide greater benefit and pay
bigger dividends than any other approach.
What we are witnessing is a shift from more than two and a half centuries of anglo-american
dominance over trade relations to an eastern led initiativewhich will likely result in
a future massive global trading relation fostering growth of industry and resource development
and greatly enhance trading relationships with peoples of many cultures.
I'm Stuart Wachowicz for Tomorrow's World Viewpoint