China’s New Silk Road Initiative Will Boost the Global Economy

BERLIN — China has experienced an economic miracle unique of dimension. Its GDP has risen 30 times since 1978 as the country ascended to be the second largest economy in world.

In order to continue this positive development, Chinese President Xi Jinping has launched an exceptional project which will help to secure China’s peaceful and prosperous development: The New Silk Road Initiative he calls “One Belt, One Road.”

The initiative aims to renew the historical experience of the old Silk Road as well as build new alliances that strengthen China’s course of modernization by combining the concepts of friendly neighborhood policy, a harmonious society and the Chinese dream.

The integration and increase of political and economic cooperation from China — crossing the Central Asian states to the Caspian region — will breathe new life into the Chinese growth dynamic. It is therefore entirely realistic that China’s gross domestic product will double in the next 10 years and the real income will increase by 100 percent in the period from 2010 until 2020.

By 2045, China is projected to catch up with the leading industrial nations, USA, Japan and Germany, in terms of efficiency and quality as it moves ever further away from a highly centralized planned economy to one based on open markets.

The New Silk Road Initiative will, however, not only result in an enormous surge in growth for China. With “One Belt, One Road,” President Xi Jinping is launching one of the largest development projects in history and offers new perspectives to countries such as Uzbekistan and Tajikistan threatened by terrorism. Indeed, he inaugurates the initiative with a visit this week to Pakistan, where China will invest $45 billion in energy and infrastructure projects.

The approach of China rising peacefully together with its neighboring countries provides a stark contrast to the threat of Islamist danger.

A separate initiative of President Xi Jinping at home promises success as well: The fight against corruption and arbitrariness of the authorities. Millions of Chinese are affected in their daily lives by this phenomenon. The success so far of the anti-corruption is an added reason for optimism that China is capable of meeting its central challenges.

Xi’s initiatives on both of these fronts are of critical importance to the rest of the world as well. Without China’s advance, global economic growth will stall.

The recent German experience bears this out. When there was weak domestic demand as a result of the financial and sovereign debt crisis in Europe, China continued to import German goods. The fact that the German economy got even stronger during this crisis has largely been due to China.

The West today knows much more about China’s politics, culture and society than it did a few years ago, though so much is still boxed in by stereotypes and prejudices that can easily lead to misunderstandings.

The economic foundation of Western cooperation with China has been firmly established over the last several decades. For that to hold, it is imperative now to go beyond economic relations and develop a more intense level of cultural dialogue. Just as China’s new initiative retraces the ancient Silk Road westward, we in the West need to expand our understanding of modern China going back the other direction.

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