14 May 2017
Since its gradual rollout four years ago, the Belt and Road initiative has become the cornerstone of China’s regional foreign policy, and has received much attention from not only the Asia-Pacific and Eurasia regions, but around the world. As regional leaders are gathering for the auspicious Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, it is perhaps time to briefly take stock of what has been accomplished thus far and what is to be expected under the aegis of the bold development initiative. In this regard, a view from Southeast Asia, where the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road traverses, will hopefully be illuminating.
Southeast Asia welcomed the initiative from the very onset, with the “Road” segment having been announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping in Jakarta, capital of Indonesia, the largest country in Southeast Asia. As this is a region which is no stranger to commercial links with China since ancient times, Southeast Asian nations are eager to seize opportunities in trade, investment and other forms of economic cooperation with China and also with each other and beyond as the most fundamental aspects of the initiative.
The Belt and Road Forum will proffer a prominent stage for regional leaders to renew their vows to forge closer regional links. These lofty goals will then have to be implemented not only by the national authorities, but by aspiring people of the region. Miracles usually happen when people of differing backgrounds are empowered to work together. And that spells true for both the ancient and modern Silk Roads.
… Oh Ei Sun is a senior fellow with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
IDSS / Online / Print
Last updated on 16/05/2017