BRI:A Quest of Soft Power by China
The global consideration of the BRI and the number of member countries evidently indicates that China seems to be using the BRI to attract developing nations for economic collaboration. Here, the attraction component for the acquisition of soft power is satisfied
China has become the world’s second growing economy by introducing reforms in its economic policies and thoughts like Socialism. These thoughts influence the Chinese people and therefore it has become the major economic power. This fastest economic growth enabled China to start projects like BRI which has opened the space for development and cooperation for its member States. The BRI project is based on a win-win situation therefore it has made tremendous progress and due to this person from different parts of the world are attracted to BRI. But at the same time when the economic influence and activities of China increased across the globe and especially in Asian Pacific region, the US and its Western Allies started negative propaganda against China and BRI. They labeled BRI as an “active charm” and argued that China is using BRI as a tool of soft power to influence other countries and their economies. But around 130-140 countries are the signatories of BRI project and it evident that China always avoid to interfere in their domestic issue. Therefore it is clear that sole purpose of BRI is economic cooperation and development not to influence any country. BRI is here for the sustainable economic development for its member countries.
The global consideration of the BRI and the number of member countries evidently indicates that China seems to be using the BRI to attract developing nations for economic collaboration. Here, the attraction component for the acquisition of soft power is satisfied. The sole achievement of the attraction component is not sufficient for soft power. Attraction and trust are core aspects for the acquisition of soft power. China’s non-interference policy stands out for generating the trust soft power component. China’s policy of “non-interference” stems from a sense of protection and assurance of sovereignty and internal affairs among nations, that are in jeopardy of the need for projects, approaches, agreements, and policies to save their nation from deterioration. The integration of smart diplomacy has helped China a great deal to build trust and attraction through the BRI. China was well aware that a policy of non-interference was deemed highly required by nations. Without hurting any country’s national interests, China is providing them with the means to save their nations. With the regulatory framework of such assurance, countries in need are working with China under the BRI. Thus, China is leading the way in international politics by acquiring soft power, from the project, strategy, and integration of smart diplomacy. China has now moved from smart to global diplomacy, all of which has resulted in the enhancement of soft power. The Chinese government, with the founding of the Belt and Road Initiative, has pursued a policy of creating their influence with peace and providing economic development opportunities for states but has received considerable criticism.
Many scholars argue that BRI and the string of pearls are the two theories that demonstrate Chinese hegemonic intentions to control both land and water routes. In particular, the BRI is a strategy for regional integration, increasing trade, and boosting economic growth, while the Indian Ocean is particularly committed to global security. Other critics labeled BRI as a “debt trap” and many scholars also regard this as a “white elephant project”. The critical argument is usually that China often uses its money to create interdependence between states, and when these states are unable to repay the funds provided by China, it takes the territory of that state under its control, for example, the Hambantota Port and the Zambia case. The argument is bogus that BRI is a “debt trap”. If BRI is of such a nature, then Sri Lankan Foreign Secretary Admiral Jayanath Colombage should not have said in an interview with Xinhua, “I see the Belt and Road Initiative as a great prospect for Sri Lanka to be more connected to the global supply chain.” It should be seen from the point of view that the State itself is responsible for shaping the opportunity in a beneficial way. The proper strategy should be used to derive economic benefits from the BRI, as it also contributes to other countries. The typical negative attitude of “international relations” to unite only when there is a conflict or when there is a violent situation needs to be changed. The positive side should be taken in the true sense that it can be through BRI. As Adam Grant considered giving and taking as a revolutionary approach to success, attention should be paid to the need under COVID-19, especially for developing and underdeveloped nations. The People’s Republic of China is taking every possible path that can help them to acquire soft power. And for them, the concept of soft power is silently linked to a peaceful rise. This strategy of peaceful rise with soft power by China has proved itself to be a genuine state with a desire for peace in its region as well as in the world. China has identified soft power as an effective force in transforming itself into a global influence. The real meaning of soft power is achieved by China as states believe in BRI. This labels China as the champion of soft power because states are now relying on China’s policy, BRI.