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Keywords to Understand the Belt and Road Initiative
Keywords help to understand the Belt and Road Initiative
 NO. 37 SEPTEMBER 14, 2017

The China Academy of Translation, a research institute affiliated with the China International Publishing Group, the country's leading international publisher, has analyzed prevailing terms concerning the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and translated them into a number of foreign languages. In each issue, Beijing Review presents some of these keywords to help readers know more about the initiative.

India: Project Mausam

Project Mausam is a foreign policy initiative of the Indian Government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It envisions a new platform for cooperation across the vast area extending from the South Asian subcontinent to other parts of the Indian Ocean littoral in which India will play the leading role.

Initially proposed as a cultural program, Project Mausam is now evolving into a quasi-strategic initiative with diplomatic and economic reverberations.

India was a major staging post on the ancient maritime Silk Road routes, and today it is an important partner of China in advancing the Belt and Road Initiative. There is no conflict between Project Mausam and China's initiative in either structure or nature; on the contrary, the two can be readily aligned and even integrated.

Mongolia: Steppe Road Program

Unveiled in November 2014, Mongolia's Steppe Road Program relies on the nation's strategically important location on the Eurasian continent to reinvigorate its economy by improving transport and trade.

With an estimated investment of $50 billion, projects envisioned under the Steppe Road Program include a 997-km expressway linking China and Russia, 1,100 km of power transmission lines, and expansion of existing railways as well as gas and oil pipelines.

The Mongolian Government believes that the program will bring business opportunities to the areas the new arteries traverse, and improve productivity in many sectors. It will particularly benefit Mongolia's pillar industries—energy and mining—and provide them with a launchpad for transformational change. As the leaders of China and Mongolia have affirmed on multiple occasions, the Belt and Road Initiative and the Steppe Road Program dovetail neatly with each other and will contribute to the development efforts of both countries.

Russia-India-Iran: North-South Corridor

Initiated by Russia, India and Iran in 2000, the North-South Corridor is intended to be a freight and cargo transit route linking South Asia, Central Asia, the Caucasus, Russia and Europe.

With an estimated length of 5,000 km, the proposed route is 40 percent shorter than current Eurasian transit routes and is expected to cut transport costs by 30 percent. It stretches southward from St. Petersburg, by the Gulf of Finland, to cross the Caspian Sea from the southern Russian port of Astrakhan. From north Iran's Now Shahr port on the other side, it heads onward to the port of Bandar Abbas in south Iran, then crosses the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea to the port of Mumbai in India. It will also connect India's west coast ports and the Iranian ports of Bandar Abbas and Chabahar on the Arabian Sea. A multimodal transport network is envisioned integrating motorways, railways and ocean shipping services.

The project has, however, experienced delays due to lack of capital and political differences. As Iran is centrally located within the route, its lukewarm response in particular contributed to protracted failure to reach consensus on any specific action plan.

The project regained traction in 2011 on the back of renewed momentum from India. Sixteen countries, including those in Central Asia, have now joined. But the prospects have been dimmed by the potential for conflict between India and Pakistan.

Comments to baishi@bjreview.com

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