By Wang Yiwei Source: Global Times Published: 2015-10-19
This March, in spite of opposition from the US, the UK took the lead to become the first major Western country to become a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which also triggered other developed countries` involvement in the AIIB. UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne`s visit to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in September signaled signs of active participation in China`s "One Belt, One Road" initiative.
These moves have demonstrated that the UK is determined to become the most proactive Western country in exploring cooperation with China. There are four primary aspects of the UK`s role in participating in the "One Belt, One Road" initiative.
The first is focusing on strengthening ties and building connections. The UK has been proactive in becoming an offshore yuan center in recent years. During President Xi Jinping`s state visit to Britain, agreements will reportedly be reached regarding China`s issuance of yuan debt in London. As an established financial power, the UK can play an important role in the Silk Road Fund and the yuan`s internationalization, which will help with financing of the initiative. In addition, given that many nations along the route are former British colonies that use an Anglo-American legal system, China-UK cooperation is necessary and will be of great significance for the strategy in terms of infrastructure interconnectivity and policy understanding among different nations.
The second aspect is development of the third-party market. Unlike the US, which achieved hegemony through a system of alliances, the UK is a nation that once ruled much of the world and sent governors and staff to its colonies, including countries along the route. Therefore, the UK holds a better understanding than China of cooperation in a third-party market that involves legal and insurance services, and this will help the initiative to adjust to the countries along the route, and realize the localization of China`s manufacturing, building and services industries.
The third aspect lies in cooperation in terms of international capacity. As the UK is the birthplace of the industrial revolution, it faces not only the problem of aging infrastructure but also the task of digitalization. This provides vast room for capacity cooperation between China and the UK.
The last aspect is the establishment of the Maritime Silk Road. As was proposed by the China-EU 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation, China and the EU should enhance exchanges and cooperation on comprehensive ocean management, ocean planning, marine knowledge, marine observation and surveillance. Britain has a critical say in the making of international shipping rules, so if China and the UK can establish a maritime partnership, it would not only help to implement the four major China-EU partnerships on peace, growth, reform and civilization put forward by Xi last year, but also move forward the building of the Maritime Silk Road.
The author is a senior fellow of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China.