Region-Building in Southern Africa: Progress, Problems and Prospects
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Despite these achievements and progress, we should not neglect the problems during the implementation of the BRI. For example, the implementation of some projects was too hasty, without sufficient consideration of their long-term economic benefits. On many occasions the projects rely too much on the support of governments and policies.
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Another extreme is sometimes the implementing agencies put too much emphasis on the benefits of the BRI for China itself, especially only calculating the narrow interests of businesses without considering the concerns of local governments, communities, and companies. Furthermore, some countries are positive about the BRI but not willing to make their own contributions.
They take for granted that China should pay for most of the cost since it is very enthusiastic in promoting the BRI and must benefit enormously from it. Lastly, there is no lack of suspicion, resistance, and even public criticism in the international community toward the BRI, including those countries along the One Belt, One Road OBOR and some regional powers.
There may be several reasons behind those suspicions. On the one hand, China has not been effective in conducting external communication about the BRI and its implementation approach in the early stage. As there are one thousand versions of Hamlets in one thousand hearts, there are many interpretations and understandings about the BRI, which are very confusing for international community. There are various stakeholders relevant to the implementation of the BRI; however, China has mostly been engaging with the government bodies without paying sufficient attention to the concerns of businesses, civil society organizations, and local communities.
Therefore, the most important issue for China in the next step is to conduct a better analysis of the interests of various stakeholders, including itself. Based on this analysis, more targeted communication can be made for more well-aligned strategies and policies for the effective implementation of the BRI.
Considering the increasingly complicated challenges we face and the lagging of the reform of international institutions, the first step for China should be working toward a community of common interest before talking about building a community of common destiny. The community of common interest can further develop into a community of responsibility in that various stakeholders should contribute their share and take advantage of their advantages for common interests.
Only when the two steps are achieved will the building of a common destiny community be feasible. Specifically, China needs to deal with the following questions. First, it should not avoid talking about its own interests. As a reflection of traditional culture, Chinese people are shy in talking about interests.
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On the other hand, they tend to talk in big but empty words and theories, which, however, lead others to think they are not reliable. The neighboring countries are even more of the opinion that China must have hidden the huge interests it can gain from the BRI. The BRI China launched was well-thought and would certainly benefit China in terms of economic development, industrial upgrading and transformation, RMB internationalization, and regional integration among other things.
This is not only very natural but also legitimate. But the BRI project should be first and foremost about economic development instead of other things. With the enhanced infrastructure connectivity, deepening of economic cooperation, and increasing interactions between people, better political and diplomatic relations can develop between and among countries under the BRI, which is beneficial for China and other countries involved.
Dawn Nagar (Author of Region-building in Southern Africa)
Second, China should also take care of the interests of other countries along the BRI. Zed Books, , pp.
Analysts frequently note the lack of economic integration and political cooperation among the 54 states of Africa-an ironic state of affairs, perhaps, given the large number of intergovern- mental organizations that exist on the continent. Welz examines the foreign policy of eight countries in the region to understand why the member states of the Africa Union, the region's primary institution of regional integration, have not devoted more energy to realizing the organization's lofty aims.
He mostly blames domestic politics, especially the personalization of power by heads of state, which tends to undermine com- mitments that countries make to greater international cooperation. The book also makes an interesting observation: countries still governed by parties that participated in anticolonial struggles are more reticent to give up sovereignty.
Welz concludes that the passage of time and the continued democratization of the region are prerequisites for more meaningful regional cooperation. An unknown error has occurred.
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