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Belt and Road Initiative gives hope for better development

Timur Shaimergenov

Timur Shaimergenov

GLOBAL governance is an extremely wide and complicated conception. That’s why I have decided to focus on the “One Belt, One Road (OBOR)” initiative (Editor’s note: Now referred to as Belt and Road Initiative) as a new model of global governance, which combines the issues of future energy and sustainable infrastructure.

It is symbolic that four years ago President Xi Jinping announced the “Silk Road Economic Belt” as part of OBOR at Nazarbayev University. Today the Belt and Road Initiative is recognized as a promising platform of international cooperation and coordination, shaping the future in a new way. OBOR is a multiple initiative and it’s not only about infrastructure, despite the fact that you hear a lot about its infrastructural dimension.

OBOR is targeted for inter-connectivity in 5 areas: policy, infrastructure, finance, trade and people. These are the same issues proposed in G20’s agenda, but the angle of OBOR’s approach is different. OBOR has united various countries and their economic and even political interests. It isn’t an ideal model but then there are no ideal paradigms. It gives a hope that balance and development are realistic and possible in fact.

China demonstrated to the world a new prospective model of cooperation. “Stability through joint development” is very attractive and a win-win model of international collaboration. Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and Silk Road Fund promote the development of financial infrastructure. New connectivity in Eurasia is boosted by Chinese investments.

I would like to share a popular Chinese proverb: if you want to be a rich man, you have to build a road. That reflects a main concept of OBOR. It creates sustainable infrastructure and reloads global trade. While G20 tries to find the engines to re-boost global trade, OBOR has done it by connecting with the East and West.

China’s approach contrasts favorably with the West’s ideas of economic nationalism, protectionism and isolationism. We see the birth of a new Asian globalization as counter-version to the Western type.

The United States and Japan have changed their positions economically and now seek for ways to cooperate within OBOR. The United Kingdom considers OBOR as alternative to its uncertain access to the European markets after “Brexit.” Germany, France and Canada all look very positively at OBOR.

Kazakhstan is important to China and not just because of its geography. Beijing officials specially underline political stability, efforts to reform and upgrade the economy, clear long-term national strategy and stable and adequate foreign policy.

President Nazarbayev, in Beijing, called Kazakhstani-Chinese relations as a model and an example of effective teamwork. President Xi Jinping announced the “Silk Road Economic Belt” foreign policy initiative in Kazakhstan, as part of China’s global strategy. And Kazakhstan is the first and only country that invested US$5 billion US dollars in infrastructure to support the Chinese efforts in creation of land communications.

Ambitious relocation

Kazakhstan’s Nurly Zhol, in line with the Chinese OBOR, were the first to finish its infrastructure programs within the New Silk Roads. And, in October 2016, Kazakhstan signed a document with several targets as a commitment to policy coordination within OBOR.

Thanks to China, Kazakhstan for the first time in its history has received stable access to marine communications and an entrance to the Pacific Ocean. The nation has even started to develop the prospective Lyanyoungan seaport.

Kazakhstan was the first nation to start the ambitious relocation project between the two countries, creating new industrial chains from Asia to European markets. This US$24 billion project is to reshape the economic landscape.

The reason behind this is because the Chinese industry needs new markets. Relocation matches well with Kazakhstan’s industrial development program. We consider each project of the relocation program very seriously and explore its technological content. There have been 11 projects out of 52 started this year and others are planned for 2018-2020. These projects will create 15,000 places in the jobs market.

Kazakhstan is the first to change traditional inter-regional trade communications in Eurasia by a creation of stable and diversified railway infrastructure that beats marine routes in speed and timing.

In 2014 when this idea about transiting railroads through Kazakhstan was discussed and prepared for implementation, few people, even in China, believed in it. Today China sends about 1,700 of trains to 8 European cities and 1,200 of these go through Kazakhstan.

That’s what we call a synergy of effective cooperation: no politics, no geopolitics. We create new a geo-economic reality. We are changing modern history as we did it 2000 years ago when the Chinese and Kazakhs developed the ancient Silk Road. Both countries have launched a new model of relations to temper geopolitics, geo-economics and any growing tensions. It has been demonstrated that tight collaboration, without interfering in domestic affairs, is possible, profitable and it is able to promote national interests.

How is it all connected to future energy?

OBOR is focused on energy infrastructure, mostly gas and oil supplies from neighbors, so energy is priority element of sustainable development. Secondly, future energy projects are mostly innovative start-ups, which require investments and specific financial mechanisms. OBOR creates financial infrastructure for investments, including in new energy projects. And we have the effect of a financial infrastructural development for energy sector.

Just a couple of days ago China had National Day at EXPO. During the National Day, Kazakh China Forum for New Investments in Energy was held. It was devoted to new energy projects China can propose to partners across the Belt and Road. Innovative projects for coal, nuclear, gas, solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and other. So the sustainable financial infrastructure boosts future energy along OBOR. So we see sequential algorithm, step-by-step development and enlargement of OBOR’s agenda.

But this is just a beginning. Just across the Eastern border we have global economy number two, which shares 17 percent of global GDP today! Can you imagine what it means to Kazakhstan from a strategic prospective?


The author is deputy director at the Library of the First President of Kazakhstan (Nazarbayev Centre). Shanghai Daily condensed the article.

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