The Silk Road Economic Belt is starting to take shape. It is a proposed economic zone stretching along the old silk road from China to Europe and beyond. However, this zone may be misconstrued by many as a trade show. This is in fact an opportunity for the people of central Asia to come together and work with their counterparts in other nations, to increase trade and boost the economies of these nations. Also, it presents China with an opportunity to gain a foothold on what could become one of the biggest trading zones in the world, the Middle East.
The Silk Road, also known as the Eurasian Land Bridge, was a trade route used in the times of Genghis Khan and Alexander the Great. While the land routes were later exploited by steamship, the ancient caravan route was made out of tracks through the desert and difficult terrain. Only through the use of horses or oxen was travel possible and even then, safety was a major concern. These factors all contribute to the lack of stability and openness of this trade route.
Now, over time, the various countries along the Silk Road have become more independent. Trade between them has increased, but friction and trade disputes remain commonplace. Each nation has a different view of how the relationship should occur. Still, overall, the countries along the Silk Road are strong. In fact, each one of them has already developed a strong military and is expanding and finding ways to bolster its defense capabilities against external threats Silk Road economic belt.
China is at the center of the development. Its economy is the largest in the world, second only to the U.S. With more than a hundred million consumers, China manufactures everything from electronics to clothing. And this is just the beginning.
The country has developed a robust economic system based on heavy investment in construction and infrastructure. It wants to keep this status so that its rise to economic power can continue. China is looking for partners in every area of its growth. It is seeking to become the biggest player in the Middle East through its trade deals, which are helping it emerge as a major exporter of labor and goods.
Middle Eastern countries, which are on the economic belt through the Silk Road, are feeling the impact of China’s rise as they continue to invest in infrastructure and promoting trade with the Chinese market. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have made official investments in what they see as an important partner in the Middle East. Other nations, such as India, are also investing, as they look for markets where their products will be sold. Ultimately, the Middle East will benefit from China’s rise as everyone else on the global stage looks to make investments and trade.
Meanwhile, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and other nations along the economic route have yet to take full advantage of the partnership. Still, it is clear that nations along the trade route will benefit as China continues to expand its presence. For now, however, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan continue to focus on promoting economic integration and increase trade with the US while China works on finding other partnerships outside the Middle East to promote its growth.
Meanwhile, those in the Middle East have yet to take advantage of the partnership. They argue that bilateral trade deals will solve their problems. Yet, that may be true for the short term. The future may bring stronger bilateral ties, but that will only be in the long term. Meanwhile, those in the Middle East will continue to suffer due to China’s rise, especially as their trade and dependence on Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member countries withers away.