Azer Khudiyev: “One Belt, One Road”
Thetransformation of the world order in the period of global turbulenceis accompanied by numerous complications of various kinds. The degreeof uncertainty in interstate relations increases, new risks appear,and uncertainty increases. In the context of globalization, thesefactors make the world system very sensitive to geopoliticalfluctuations. At the regional and global levels, building a moresuccessful model of integration and cooperation is being actualized.A kind of struggle begins between existing approaches to globalintegration and alternative models. In view of these generalprocesses, the growing experts' interest to the High-level 'Belt andRoad' Forum for International Cooperation seems more than normal.
Moreover,after the first high-level 'Belt and Road' Forum for InternationalCooperation, which took place in May 2017, foreign partners hadseveral questions about the prospects for the 'One Belt, One Road'(OBOR) initiative. These questions related to the attempts of Chinato create geopolitical alliances or military blocs, to form on thisbasis a closed political 'Chinese Club' and thereby to conduct anideological watershed. In fairness, we note that these questions didnot appear out of the blue.
Inrecent years, Beijing signed cooperation documents with more than 150countries from various regions of the world. Among them there areEuropean countries too. Experts believe that such an expansion of thegeography and composition of the project participants makes itscontent more vague, which, in turn, calls into question the initialstatements of the Chinese leadership regarding the objectives of thisproject. Specifically, politicians and experts talk about thegeopolitical and military plans of official Beijing.
Ofcourse, it is impossible to imagine this initiative out of thegeopolitical context. And the project participants themselves openlytalk about it. Against the background of the well-known thesis of Z.Brzezinski that the center of global geopolitics began to move fromthe West to the East, the concerns of some politicians and expertshave more than serious grounds. Moreover, the leaders of variouscountries are talking about China’s initiative in the context ofthe unsuccessful attempt of the Western model of globalization.Allegedly, taking into account Western mistakes in this matter, Chinaoffers an alternative globalization model, and it should lead to the“co-development and prosperity” of many countries.
Inhis speech at the second Forum, the Leader of the Nation, the firstPresident of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, especially emphasizedthat since the beginning of the XXI century '... the past version ofglobalization itself has cracked. The world community appeared notprepared for accelerated universality'. (1) This led to a loss ofhope for the formation of a single, prosperous global world.Moreover, in the modern world regionalism, trade wars, sanctions havebecome realities. It seemed that '... there is no alternative to anincreasingly divided world. But the Silk Road model proposed by Chinain 2013 became not only viable in modern geopolitical conditions, butalso successful, as the past five and a half years of its progressdemonstrate'. (1)
Developinghis ideas, N. Nazarbayev gives a more specific description, in hisopinion, of the 'successful globalization model': “Globalization... transforms into a new format', 'the One Belt - One Roadinitiative introduced a new model of globalization with an orientalface', 'the historical cycle once again returns the global center ofgravity to the East', 'and already now the trend Easternizationoffers new cooperation guidelines'. (1)
Ifpoliticians speak of a new model of globalization, then logicallythis implies a concrete attitude of this model to the existing one.And this automatically leads to competition, the clash ofalternatives and sorting out of relationships between superpowers.Yet in August 2018, at a seminar devoted to the five-year anniversaryof the proclamation of the OBOR initiative, the Chinese leader XiJinping, tried to becalm everyone. He assured that the OBORinitiative is openly inclusive, and any interested country can joinit. And at the second Forum, the Chinese leader, delivering a keynotespeech, focused more specifically on certain aspects of the OBORproject. (2) His ideas can be narrowed down to the following theses.
TheOBOR project opens up new opportunities for various countries,including it has 'opened new horizons in openness and development ofChina'. Project participants should be oriented towards the future aswell as be guided by the principle of 'joint consultations, jointconstruction and joint use', 'to achieve the development goalscharacterized by high standards'. (2)
Thehead of China promised to make efforts to provide ' the developingcountries with more opportunities and space, to assist them ineradicating poverty and ensuring sustainable development', he calledfor 'active building bridges of mutual learning of differentcivilizations, strengthening humanitarian cooperation in variousfields and shaping the structure of diverse humanitarian exchange'.
Finally,he announced that at a new historical start, China will 'step forwardon the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics and adhere to acomprehensive deepening of reforms, high-quality development,expanding openness to the external world, a path of peacefuldevelopment and promoting the formation of a common fate forhumanity”. (2)
Thus,China intends to develop cooperation with any country that acceptsthe conditions of cooperation under the OBOR project. China opensitself to the outer world for the sake of high-quality development ofall partners. The announcement of this principle at the 2nd high-level Forum for International Cooperation under the OBOR project isalso attractive for us from the perspective of the high-qualitydevelopment of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Ukraine in the framework ofthis initiative. Do new opportunities open up for us in thisdirection?
Azerbaijan,as a geopolitical hub of the South Caucasus, is actively involved inthe implementation of the OBOR project. Azerbaijan is among the 13countries in which 35 OBOR projects are financed. Baku intends toincrease its participation in the implementation of this project. Inparticular, Azerbaijan can be a link between China and Central andEastern Europe countries through neighboring Kazakhstan and Ukraine,and through Georgia. In this context, we note that a mechanism hasalready been established for the functioning of international railwayroutes between China and Europe. Experience shows that Kazakhstan isactively involved in this process. The leader of the nation, thefirst president of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, spoke about thisat the second Forum. 'The shortest land routes connecting Asia andEurope pass through' namely Kazakhstan. (1)
Inorder to implement its successful transit potential, the country'sleadership implemented the 'Nurly Zhol' national program. Inaddition, 'over the past 10 years, Kazakhstan has invested about $30billion in infrastructure development, transport and logistics assetsand competencies. 2.5 thousand kilometers of national railways and12.5 thousand kilometers of highways were modernized or commissioned.Local sea and air harbors were reconstructed. As a result, a modernand competitive transit hub was created in the country in a shorttime'. (1)
Finally,Kazakhstan is doing a lot of work outside its borders within the OBORproject. New routes have already been launched, linking Kazakhstanwith the world by land and sea. In particular, the high-endintercontinental highway 'Western Europe - Western China' connectsEurope with China through Kazakhstan. The ports of Aktau and Curykserve the 'transshipment of goods from China, Central Asiancountries, to the South Caucasus, Turkey and further to Europe'. (1)
Sothe economic corridor China - Central Asia - Western Asia and furthertowards Southern Caucasus and Europe under the OBOR project passesthrough Kazakhstan, and this can be used by Azerbaijan and Ukraine.Ukrainian neighbors -- Belarus and Poland -- can join this project.Even more so, they are already signatories to the agreement ondeepening the cooperation regarding the container transit'China-Europe'. 'As of the end of 2018, the 'China-Europe'railway route had already united 108 cities/towns and 16 countries ofthe Eurasia continent; in total, more than 13 thousand trains hadbeen dispatched which moved over 1.1 million standard containers withvarious cargos'. (3)
Chinahas signed 38 bilateral and regional agreements on sea freights with47 countries. 16 of them are the Central and Eastern Europeancountries. Under these agreements, Ukraine has good opportunitieswithin '16+1' formula (China-CEEC Trade Index, CCTI, Chinese tradeindex and 16 countries of Central and Eastern Europe) regarding moreactive participation in the OBOR project's implementation. In view ofthe increase of direct Chinese investments in countries situatedalong the OBOR, the mentioned opportunities have great importance forthe development of China-Kazakhstan-Azerbaijan-Ukraine cooperation.Worth noting is that according to the preliminary estimates theoverall volume of direct foreign investments in countries along theOBOR is to increase by 4.97%. (4)
So,despite some doubts in expert circles, there are good opportunitiesfor cooperation of many countries within the OBOR project.Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Ukraine can take their rightful places inthis process. And the fate of this project, as an alternativeglobalization model, will take shape over time. But already today,experts see benefits of this initiative. It seems to us that ourthree countries (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Ukraine) can take thisfavorable opportunity and use these advantages.
Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Azerbaijani Republic in Ukraine
- Speech by Yelbasy [head of state] N. Nazarbayev at the opening of the 2nd Belt & Road Forum for International Cooperation / The Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Official website, 26.04.2019 // https://primeminister.kz/en/news/%20president-of-kazakhstan/18328.
- Xi Jinping was present and delivered a keynote speech at the opening of the 2nd high-level Belt & Road Forum for International Cooperation // https://rus.yidaiyilu.gov.cn/news/china/87998.htm.
- The Belt and Road Initiative Progress, Contributions and Prospects/Belt and Road Portal, 24.04.2019 // https://eng.yidaiyilu.gov.cn/zchj/qwfb/86739.htm.
- Maggie Xiaoyang Chen, Chuanhao Lin. Foreign Investment across the Belt and Road Patterns, Determinants and Effects. WORLD BANK Policy Research Working Paper 8607，October 2018.