12 March 2015
China has not effectively communicated its grand connectivity ideas to South and Southeast Asian countries. Beijing urgently needs to improve its communications with external parties and seek feedback so as to counter media speculations and to have a better understanding of regional needs.
In October 2013, China’s President Xi Jinping unveiled his concept of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (MSR) in a speech to Indonesia’s parliament during an official visit. It attracted much attention in the region and further information from China was highly anticipated. However, for the months that followed, Chinese officials rehashed Xi’s ideas on reviving ancient trade links and improving regional relations but provided little detail on the MSR.
At the 17th China-ASEAN Summit in November 2014, Chinese prime minister Li Keqiang put forward a “2+7 Cooperation Framework” for building a community of shared destiny, as an addition to the MSR. It comprises a two-point political consensus on building strategic trust, and promoting mutually beneficial economic development as well as seven priority areas for cooperation that include maritime cooperation, finance, security, environmental protection and people-to-people exchange. Today, regional countries remain unclear about China’s grand connectivity project which seeks to expand port access to facilitate maritime trade across Southeast Asia, South Asia, the African coast and the Mediterranean.
…Irene Chan is a senior research analyst with the China Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. This is the second in the series on China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
IDSS / Online
Last updated on 23/11/2015