China and the Economic Integration of Europe and Asia

Remarks to the Summer Roundtable of the Pacific Pension Institute

Ambassador Chas W. Freeman, Jr. (USFS, Ret.)
San Francisco, California, 23 July 2015

This gathering has featured lively discussions of investment in various forms of infrastructure, logistics management, and natural resources. Originally, I was going to talk about China’s role in commodity market volatility. I began preparing to do that but, with your indulgence and in line with the theme of this roundtable, I want instead to address the most massive project for infrastructure and logistics management investment the world has yet seen. I am referring to China’s “Silk Road Economic Belt” and the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road,” the “one belt, one road” project. This aims to bring into being a new economic order on the Eurasian landmass. Everything from the Atlantic to the Pacific is to be connected through hyper-efficient infrastructure and new institutional linkages.

Internationally, most attention has focused on Beijing’s ambition to build 81,000 kilometers (about 50,000 miles) of high-speed railways connecting itself to everywhere else in Asia and Europe. One trunk route is to go through Southeast Asia to Singapore. A second will cross the Karakorum Mountains and branch into two lines: one reaching Pakistani ports on the Arabian Sea; the other crossing Iran to Turkey, the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, and Southeastern Europe, with a branch connection to the Arabian Peninsula. A third trunk will go through Kazakhstan and Russia to Western Europe. China’s plan is to enable train travel from London to Beijing in a mere two days as early as 2025... CONTINUE READING