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General

Hope and fear for New Silk Road

Tehran, The threeday 'New Silk Road' conference ended in Beijing, with some participating delegates raised concerns on Beijing intensions on large investments and trend of financing and project management.

Dozens of countries have sent their senior representatives to Beijing to attend the second comprehensive meeting on China's major and transatlantic initiative to create the 'New Silk Road'. The delegations from 110 countries, including Iran, participated in the conference to explore ways to collaborate in the 'One Belt, One Road' project, also known as the New Silk Road.

Some have resembled this conference a great deal to the meetings of the UN General Assembly. The meeting ended on Saturday April 27, which according to Chinese President Xi Jingping, during a threeday talks, new economic deals worth $64 billion were signed.

** China; main center of Silk Road

From near 110 countries that sent delegations to the meeting more than 35 countries participated at the level of the president and prime minister. Although the Russian president and the Italian prime minister were among the most important figures in the meeting, Italy's participation as the first advanced country (Group 7 member) in this superproject attracted more attention than other issues.

Since 2013, Beijing has begun the implementation phase of the project, and over the past two years, it has focused its foreign policy on it. The completion of this great project will cover more than 60 countries from East Asia to Western Europe and will account for more than half of the world's economy, given their major contribution to the world economy and population. In addition to Italy, Germany and France have already begun to participate in the project, and it is said that in the end, 19 European countries will be involved in this project.

In its report, Agence FrancePresse (AFP) reported that the project is highly in favor of China, contrary to claims by senior Beijing officials. It is said that since 2013, China has invested about $80 billion in plans of the projects, and has lent about $200 billion to do so. In contrast, since the implementation of the plan, China's trade with the countries in the belt has risen to $6,000 billion.

Fortune magazine has provided similar statistics. Over the past few years, Chinese companies have taken over most of the projects. With more than $2 billion in funding for the government, these firms created tax revenue for the government and 300,000 new jobs.

The sensitivity towards China's commercial targets has increased since China's export volume, is strongly different from imports to China. Examining the trains running on the Chinese rail link to Europe shows that roughly 95% of the trains running from China are full, with only about 70% of trains heading for China.

** Concerns about Beijing's goals

By building New Silk Road, China is working to make its communication paths with the world easier by establishing a communication link between Asia, Europe and Africa. This largescale transnational project has been criticized from to two dimensions; the concern behind Beijing's plans to expand geopolitical influence in the world is one of the most important issues that Washington and some of its global powers are reflecting. On the other hand, the process of financing projects in other countries by Chinese banks has also attracted the attention of governments. There is doubt that Beijing's actions are planned and aimed at making other countries indebted.

Financing of $100 billion worth of projects, along with its infrastructure, has raised concerns in Western countries, particularly the United States, about Beijing's real goals for increasing global influence and putting aside the United States as the superior economic and political power of the world.

Despite criticizing Beijing for paying loan and making indebted other countries, the justification of Chinese officials is that Beijing, at its expense, creates infrastructure for countries that need it, so both sides benefit from it and this is a winwin initiative.

On the very day of the meeting, with rise of criticism against China on the trend of paying loan to developing countries, Chinese officials expressed that they were committed to not imposing conditions on lending in a way that countries were facing difficulties to repay. On the other hand, most Western countries are still skeptical about the project, and so many of them were present at a lowprofile level. The Daily Telegraph reported in a report on China's new Silk Road project that Washington will be forced to accept Beijing and to work on the project.

The Fortune also believes that the United States should not turn its back on this economic belt. The two countries, the world's largest economies, have no choice but to cooperate in this ambitious project.

The United States has now kept itself out this project, and this has deprived itself of the opportunities created by the new Silk Road. According to such an analysis, the US action will leave the world deprived of US industrial initiatives and capabilities.

** The Silk Road is a ground for communication, development

In general all views are positive about the project, and if the intentions that Beijing considers for this initiative can be implemented, it can make significant changes on the path to the development of the countries of the Road.

According to media analysis, the key to success and popularity of the initiative is that it has focused on the issue of development. The Chinese are well aware that development is mother of all country's issues, and the first step is to build roads and infrastructure. That's why they are focusing on transportation.

Source: Islamic Republic News Agency IRNA


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