The Group of Seven (G-7) powerful nations has committed an investment of $40 trillion over the next 10 years in the Blue Dot Network (BDN) to checkmate the $3.7 trillion Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of China. It will be a big slap on the face of China and its expansionist policy to dominate the world. Xi Jinping’s dream of making China the “Number One” global power by 2049 is in jeopardy.
This G-7 led initiative, though Germany and Canada are less committed, is promoting an infrastructure push to wean away poor and less developed countries from the Chinese BRI induced “Debt Trap”. It would provide an alternative to carry out development projects at a lesser cost. The involvement of private businesses and banks is being sought to give a fillip to this project. As one sees the world image (given below), it seeks to bring the whole world under its tutelage.
However, the G-7 nations (USA, Japan, Italy, Canada, Germany, France and UK) have not made any official statement on this. It is still in the drawing board stage. The Blue Dot Network (BDN) became public only after the US White House released a 255-page document on 08 June 2021, giving broad outlines of its blueprint. In reality it is an old scheme of the Trump era, when the US had wanted Japan and Australia to counter the Chinese BRI.
The new avatar of the BDN has been briefly outlined by US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, who is stated to have said: “US trade policy towards China should include examining how existing trade agreements and future measures could help make domestic supply chains more resilient.”
It must be noted that more than 100 of the 200 countries of the world had opted for China’s BRI. According to another assessment, the Chinese state and its subsidiaries have lent, in direct loans and trade credits, $1.5 trillion to almost 150 countries of the world. The BRI covers most of Asia, such as East, Central, South and South East Asia. It also includes most of Europe and Latin American nations.
It seems most of the poor and underdeveloped countries, with fledgling economies, needed China more than China needed them. As the developed and rich countries had neglected them, they naturally became easy prey for the Chinese allurements. With these projects China intends to gain political and economic control. It is thus a part of Xi Jinping’s dream of becoming the sole global power by the year 2049.
India had declined to join the BRI. But Pakistan became a major cog in this scheme. The so-called China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passes through the disputed region of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK), which India claims as its own territory. Pakistan already owes a $10 billion debt to China, which speaks of its silence on Chinese high-handedness on the Uyghur Muslims.
China’s “debt-trap diplomacy” has led many nations to lose their political and strategic manoeuvrability. Sri Lanka has been trapped through a huge loan of $8 Billion for its Hambantota port project. The inability of Sri Lanka to repay the loan has led to China taking control of the port on a lease of 99 years.
It is alleged that a dozen of these countries owe almost 20% of their national GDP to China. These countries are Djibouti, Tonga, the Maldives, Republic of Congo, Niger, Kyrgyzstan, Cambodia, Laos, Samoa, Zambia, Vanuatu and Mongolia. Globally, the Chinese government’s aggregate claims on the rest of the world exceed $5 trillion in total. In other words, it accounted for more than 6% of the world GDP in debt to China as of 2017.
China had planned some 2,600 projects under the BRI scheme so far. But some 20 projects that were under execution have been derailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The projects pertained to roads, power plants, ports, railways, 5G networks and fibre-optic cables.
Given this scenario, how will the BDN impact India once it becomes a reality? India has much to gain from it. China’s policy of rolling back Indian trade and influence from East and South East Asia would be halted. The CPEC, which is the spearhead of the BRI, and the New Silk Road, would come to standstill. What’s more, it would affect the development of Pakistan’s fresh water port at Gwadar.
Similarly, Sri Lanka would be rejuvenated with fresh investments that could enable it to repay the Chinese loan and take control of the Hambantota port, if not fully but even partially to stall China’s aggressive intent against India. Once the BRI starts rolling back, the internal situation in China would lead to unrest and despair against the CCP.
But all this is in the womb of the future. It depends on how much of the theory on paper can be translated on the ground. It also depends on the willingness of private capital – let’s say from Google or Amazon or other major business corporations – to invest in the less developed countries, which are always in the throes of instability and insecurity. In the final analysis, it calls for India to wait and watch the unfolding of this grand design of BDN.
The G-7’s proposed BDN aims to turn the globe “Blue” by private or public collaboration in various fields from industrial, electronic, medicinal/ health care to economic and infrastructure development. It proposes to roll back the intended “Red” spread of China. In effect, the world may once again see a cold war of “Blue and Red”.
But the Big Question remains: Would it fructify? The Answer: The future will tell the story as to how the G-7 tackles Chinese intrigues, machinations and domination of almost all global trade, health and financial institutions. The G-7 has a herculean task, first to persuade the private sector to cooperate and then deal with enlarged Chinese influence.
China has other, more sinister designs. It wants to use its population hubs in various countries as a weapon of manipulation. No wonder China has now scrapped its one-child policy to encourage families to have up to three children. It surely has a motive of mass exporting of Han people to expand the already existing ‘China Town’ nodes all over the world. China’s new designs ought not to be dismissed lightly.
China has so much clout over WHO and WTO that it not only pushed the US out of WHO, but has also been able to stall the investigations into the origins of the COVID-19 virus for almost 18 months. The expanding Chinese nodes of exported populations would further resist the G-7 designs.
Therefore, there are many slips between the cup and the lips. Germany and Canada are already reluctant to join this venture. Let the future unfold itself.
-An ex-NDA and Wellington Staff College graduate, Col Rajinder Singh is a renowned author and security analyst. He has authored four books, two individually and two in collaboration. His best-selling books are Kashmir – A Different Perspective and The ULFA Insurgency. The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Raksha Anirveda.