The Silk Road economic belt is the latest manifestation of China’s ambitions to become a regional power. Established in late 2021, it has been set up as a vast network of high-speed railways that will connect China’s rapidly growing economy with those of Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. This high-speed network, stretching for thousands of kilometers, is intended to help China gain access to the vital resources of the Middle East and the CIS for development and economic revival. It is also meant as a counterbalance to the military and economic might of India.
The economic and political significance of the Silk Road is immense. Irrespective of China’s ambitions, the present arrangement is more than enough to guarantee its rise as a major global economic player. In fact, most analysts forecast the Belt as being the largest and fastest-growing economic project in the world today. This is primarily because of the fact that it unites all of the nations that are members of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and also encompasses Central Asia, which has so far escaped the attention of global businesses.
The Silk Road passes through numerous Islamic countries. Major transport arteries cross Afghanistan, providing China with an ocean port and the transshipment of goods. At the same time, it links China via Pakistan to the Indian Ocean, providing a trade route across the Arabian Sea to the east. A railway line from Pakistan to China’s western coast passes through Iran. Additionally, Pakistan shares a land border with Afghanistan through the Karakoram highway.
Besides, trade routes cross the deserts of China’s southern neighbor, Pakistan. A large portion of China’s agricultural produce, such as wheat, is grown in the dessert and reaches markets in the western part of the country. Moreover, the massive Thales Corporation factory situated in the town of Thalang is one of the biggest employment generators in the textile industry. The city of Lanzhou is another major center for trade. In fact, most of China’s largest companies including Anheuser Busch Gardens, belong to the region. A major part of CPEC plans is connected with the Belt and Road; this makes it easier for Chinese companies to access the markets beyond the Middle East.
Not only is the Middle East important for global trade, but the Middle East is important for India. The Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea are crucial shipping routes, providing over half of India’s crude oil and gas exports. CPEC will not only connect China to its traditional and regional partners abroad, but will also open new frontiers for Indian businesses in places like Japan, Vietnam, and Indonesia. It will also reduce the shipping costs of India to the rest of the world. The regional economic structure will be the foundation of future global economic reforms and will improve the living conditions of millions of people across the globe.
The connectivity of the Silk Road Economic Belt will largely boost internal development in China. With more sectors able to tap into the Chinese market, the domestic economy will grow faster and living standards will start to improve for the majority of Chinese people. CPEC was created to improve the lives of ordinary Chinese and at the same time help the global economy grow while opening up trade routes for global businesses. While many political analysts have predicted the success of the Silk Road Economic Belt, few are quite certain about its effects on China. Most experts agree that it will bring about a positive shift in Chinese policy towards the world and open up more trading routes, but there is no way to determine what this will bring.
Experts also believe that the development of the Asian Development Bank will help promote the connectivity of the corridor. This can only mean that bilateral trade will gradually increase between the members of the association. However, it is still premature to predict its effects on China’s economy.
The future of the Middle East lies in the success of the Silk Road Economic Belt. It can only be used as a guide to help countries such as Pakistan and UAE design successful economic development strategies in the future. Even though the road is only an initiative, it has already established strong links to other countries and regions around the world. Trade between the members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Corporation (Agency) of these countries will only strengthen the Belt and Road initiative. The creation of the agricultural cooperative banks will help improve the efficiency of the transport system and the speed of development for the Middle East as a whole.