A national plan guiding the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road is currently in the works and is expected to be released soon. The One Belt and One Road initiatives, which have attracted worldwide participation, represent some of the leading programs of their kind with respect to the ongoing process of economic globalization.
The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road was first proposed by President Xi Jinping while visiting Indonesia in October 2013. In scale and ethos, the initiative can be seen as a continuation of the legacy of its ancient predecessor, which stretches back some 2,000 years. The scheme was first put forward at a time when strategic partnership between China and its ASEAN counterparts had entered its 10th year. Underlying this concept is to galvanize relations between China and Southeast Asian countries in the pursuit of common prosperity among all concerned.
At present, the scope of the initiative is not limited merely to China and Southeast Asian countries but has expanded to incorporate countries in South Asia, Central Asia, Africa, the Asia-Pacific and Europe, with the long-term goal of economic and trade integration in sight. Therefore, the scheme does not solely pertain to the interests of China and its partners, but represents a blueprint for global economic and cultural exchanges.
The initiative clearly demonstrates China's intention to further open up to the outside world and its desire to engage in cooperation on an equal footing with partner economies on country-to-country and regional levels, as well as to promote cultural exchanges between the parties concerned.
Against the backdrop of the recent global financial crisis, the need to bolster international cooperation has become increasingly apparent to all. The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road allows regions and countries to together build a strategic platform from which economic growth might be spurred. Additionally, it represents an attempt by China and partner countries to promote the facilitation of communication, understanding, tolerance and cooperation in the global community, with the normalization of peaceful relations being the ultimate goal.
In recent years, owing to its fast-growing economy, China has frequently been identified by some as a potential threat. However, the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road provides positive proof that China's rise will not be achieved at the expense of other countries' interests but that, conversely, the country will hold true to the fundamental principle of mutually beneficial cooperation in terms of international relations and trade.
Just like the ancient maritime silk route, which evolved from economic and trade exchanges between the East and West, the modern successor hopes to emulate its ancestor in furnishing all regions involved in the scheme with more opportunities for growth and prosperity.