Peter T. C. Chang says Beijing’s ambition to build a pan-Asian sphere of common prosperity will affect far more than the region’s economy, and it would be wise to watch out for the civilisational fault lines
SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Tuesday, 07 February, 2017
Just as the Euro-American world grapples with the sombre after-effects of Brexit and the installation of a pugnacious Trump presidency, the Asian milieu is becoming transfixed with the anticipation and allure of the “One Belt, One Road” initiative. At a time when the West is building walls in retreat, the East is constructing gateways in an outward advance, to embrace globalisation, through the belt and road, the brainchild of President Xi Jinping (習近平). Retracing the ancient silk and spice trade routes, the belt and road seeks to reopen the economic corridors and re-energise the commercialism that once drew principalities near and far to the Middle Kingdom. Beijing’s endgame is to build a pan-Asian sphere of common prosperity, evoking both the celebrated adventures of Marco Polo and Zheng He’s expeditions, across the land and seas, all at once, this time deploying bullet trains and supertankers.