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SECOND BRI FORUM: Will The East Led Globalization Prevail?

By Dr. Sawraj Singh

The second Belt Road International (BRF) Forum was just held in Beijing with  126 countries attending this year compared to 60 countries who attended the first forum which was held in2017. This number alone shows how rapidly this idea is being accepted by rest of the world. The most significant achievement of the BRI could be that a country like Italy which is a part of the main stream western elite has also joined the BRI. 13 members of the European Union have already joined the BRI.

China wants to revive the old Silk Route in the 21st century which will connect Asia, Europe and Africa.  The belt comprises of three routes. One will connect China with Central Asia, Russia and Europe. The second will connect China with the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea. The third will link China with Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Indian Ocean. The BRI looks like an alternate East led Globalization to the present western Globalization. It is no secret that the present western Globalization is in deep trouble and is collapsing.

The present western Globalization started with the Bretton Woods system which started in 1944 among the United States, Canada, western European countries, Australia and Japan. This system led to the American domination and eventual hegemony over the international monetary system. Therefore, America is the undeclared leader of the present western Globalization. It is no secret that American grip over the world affairs is loosening. Even though, the Bretton Woods system was created to serve the interests of the western and the developed countries, Europe, which forms the biggest part of those countries, feels that it has been marginalized by the US. This explains the good response the BRI is getting in Europe.

There were some concerns that China, like the US, may not become exclusive beneficiary of the BRI. The main concerns were about transparency and debt trap. I feel that China has adequately addressed both those major concerns and made it clear that unlike the US, China intends to be a team player and wants all the participants to share the benefits of the BRI. I feel that Chinese actions are guided by eastern wisdom which puts collective above individual and multilateral above unilateral. Therefore, the fears that China will replace the US as the new hegemonic power are not genuine.

The west led Globalization will not be replaced by a similar east led Globalization.  East led Globalization will be qualitatively different than the west led Globalization. China is most likely to remain a team player and will not become a hegemonic power like the US. China seems to realize that east led Globalization needs a collective leadership, primarily of China, Russia and India, the three largest eastern countries. Russia is solidly with China in this venture. President Putin was one of the most prominent participants in the Forum.

Even though, India decided to stay away from the Forum because of the sovereignty issue in the occupied Kashmir, yet it is obvious that the Wuhan spirit is still alive. China showed a change of attitude toward India. China did not want to provoke India by encroaching upon its area of influence. China’s stand on Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar has certainly pleased India. Relations between the two largest Asian countries are likely to show continued improvement. India may not join the BRI yet. However, it is likely to agree that it has to assume the collective leadership of the east led Globalization along with Russia and China.

Dr. Sawraj Singh, MD F.I.C.S. is the Chairman of the Washington State Network for Human Rights and Chairman of the Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice. He can be reached at sawrajsingh@hotmail.com.

 

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