Contrasting Strategies: China’s BRI Emphasizes Peaceful Development while US’ Focuses on War and Destruction
In a world where geopolitical tensions dominate headlines and international relations take center stage, two contrasting narratives emerge. On one hand, we witness China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a grand vision of connectivity and economic cooperation.
On the other hand, the United States seems to be trapped in a cycle of war and destruction. It is a tale of peaceful development versus a backdrop of conflict and turmoil.
China holds the 3rd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation between 17 and 18 October in Beijing, the United States was busy mobilising resources for war in Israel and Ukraine.
In contrast, the United States faces the challenge of reevaluating its role on the global stage. Can it shift gears from a path of destruction to one of constructive engagement? Can it embrace a new narrative that prioritizes diplomacy, collaboration, and sustainable development?
This article seeks to highlight these different approaches between the Chinese-proposed peaceful development paradigm, and US-led hegemonic “war economy” that benefits elites in the West.
BRI is an important vehicle for global development to spread the ancient Silk Road spirit characterized by peace and cooperation anchored on massive infrastructure development, connectivity and high quality investments.
Other pillars of the framework include openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning, mutual benefit and win-win result. The joint development of the BRI is intended to build a new cooperation system that is completely open not only on the regional level but also on the global level, with which countries big or small, rich or poor, will have equal participation, development and benefit under equal rules.
BRI thus offers concrete opportunities for other developing countries to break out of the old cycles of underdevelopment while also providing China with opportunities to realize its own full potential in tandem with the large public goods associated with global peace and socioeconomic justice.
This year, the forum marked the 10th anniversary and produced substantial outcomes in the form of cooperation documents, initiatives, and mechanisms, as well as projects, funds, and measures. A number world leaders or their representatives participated in the Forum, including Zimbabwe and they praised the benefits of BRI and its sustainability and efficiency as an international public good, in line with the current trend of globalization.
China’s peaceful development
China is an exponent of peaceful development, which it has experienced as a global economic powerhouse as well as a philosophy that it seeks to inculcate into the world as an alternative worldview.
For starters, China does not seek hegemony or to dominate other countries, or to invade other countries as an assertion of its economic and military might.
President Xi Jinping has emphasized that China will “unswervingly take the road of peaceful development and remain a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development and a defender of the international order”.
He has also said China aims “to follow the path of peaceful development is a strategic choice made by us in the fundamental interests of the Chinese people” and that “to follow the path of peaceful development is a strategic choice made by us in the fundamental interests of the Chinese people.”
In November 2022 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit, for example, he stated: “More than anything else, we Chinese hope to see peace and stability.”
He said China: “…will stand firmly on the right side of history. We will stay committed to peace, development, cooperation, and delivering mutual benefit. We will strive to safeguard world peace and development as we pursue our own development, and we will make greater contribution to world peace and development through our own development.”
He has also emphasized that China will “unswervingly take the road of peaceful development and remain a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development and a defender of the international order”. In addition, he has highlighted that China’s peaceful development over the past 50 years has been dedicated to the welfare of all humanity.
BRI and other initiatives that China has been an exponent of in recent years fully express these pro-people, pro-humanity and pro-development directions. It is little wonder that the majority of the world has supported China and acknowledges its leadership and strong moral force.
War, hegemony and military-industrial complex
While China, led by President Xi, was charting a way for global peaceful development through the BRI Forum, his opposite number in the US, Joe Biden, was asking for Congress to approve over US$100 billion to finance war in Israel and Ukraine.
According to the media, On October 20, the Biden administration submitted a $106bn request to Congress for military and humanitarian aid for Israel and Ukraine and humanitarian assistance for Gaza, “insisting lawmakers had an obligation to support US allies standing up to tyranny and aggression worldwide”.
This followed Biden’s address at the Oval Office that there were links between the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine and the deadly attacks on Israel by Hamas on 7 October.
Of the funds, $61.4bn was earmarked for Ukraine, incorporating replenishment of US weapons stocks, $14.3bn for Israel and $9.15bn for unspecified humanitarian assistance in both countries and the blockaded Gaza Strip Palestinian territory.
Further, most of the remainder of the money would be allocated for “security assistance” in the Indo-Pacific region, and strengthening the US-Mexico border with 1,300 additional border patrol agents and other resources, the administration said.
Biden’s rallying cry during his address was to win wars against bad guys, at least in Western eyes.
Said Biden: “History has taught us that when terrorists don’t pay a price for their terror, when dictators don’t pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos and death and more destruction.
“They keep going and the costs and the threats to America and the world keep rising.”
An analysis of this demonstrates that US policy is so loud on self-righteousness but lacks basic morality because it glorifies war and destruction. The US support of Israel and Ukraine is predicated on binaries of “us vs them”.
The approach is a cheap, lowbrow glorification of might and ability to fund and sustain wars – at whatever cost, but with devastating effect.
Gaza, as the world has seen, is testimony of that. On the other hand, arming Ukraine is not a guarantee of peace of military victory against a much more superior opponent, but just a gimmick to feed the weak side with weapons for them to sustain the unwinnable war.
In all this, the so-called military-industrial complex is the winner: few elites involved in the manufacture and sale of weapons and logistics of war are the real and only beneficiaries.
It’s a corrupt system.
These companies and powerful elites are some of the biggest funders of politicians in America, therefore exposing the nexus between politicians and their actions. Even gravely, this price is paid elsewhere, either through lives of innocents, or in the post-war reconstruction, which people who suffered war and survived it somehow still have to pay a heavy price.
These contrasts highlight why China is continuing to gain global support and increasing in perception as to how it stands in the estimation of people around the world.
A report in 2021, for example, saw more young people in Africa admiring China than America. The reasons are not hard to fathom.
Illustratively, whereas the US seeks to splurge over US$100 billion in weapons and destruction and killing people in the name of protecting its friends, China is addressing global needs in infrastructure and development.
At the same time, while the US is seeking to extend its hegemony, including in the Middle East, China is leading the world as a united global family towards equitable and harmonious peaceful devlopment.
This is, actually, the historical inflection point; and historical moment.
The US is, without doubt, on the wrong side.