The pandemic has had a strong impact on the Southeast Asian economy and around the world. The main export destination for China and Southeast Asian products is the US and European markets. As China has been gradually resuming economic activities, its consumption needs will help the recovery of the Southeast Asia industrial sector. For instance, China can purchase Southeast Asian products as supplements to imports from other parts of the world.
There has been a great outpouring of sympathy for China throughout the world in the wake of the sudden outbreak of the novel coronavirus pneumonia. But, at the same time, those forces in the West who have been adamantly opposed to the admission of China into the pantheon of world powers, have seen this catastrophe as an opportunity to throw new obstacles in the path of China's rise.
Western strategists have intentionally or unintentionally ignored the fact that China has not called the "Belt and Road" a strategy, but an initiative. One of the reasons is that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is not China-centric, nor to create an alliance. BRI is a cooperative initiative targeted at development. It aims to build a platform to achieve joint development with other countries. China does not engage in building a closed circle excluding other countries.
On January 13, 2020, a delegation of Japanese government officials, organized by China Public Diplomacy Association, pays a visit to Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China (RDCY). The visiting delegation, led by deputy director of the Training Department of National Personnel Authority Suzuki Ryotar, consists of 16 officials from 14 Japanese government departments. The delegation members and Chinese experts have a communication on Belt and Road Initiative (BRI),Chinese economy and finance, China-Japan humanities exchange and other subjects.
As China and Myanmar deepen relations, many Westerners believe that India's strategic room in the Indian Ocean region would be squeezed. New Delhi has a similar standpoint, thinking it should strengthen cooperation with countries in the vicinity so as to neutralize the increasing strategic presence of China in the region. Such viewpoint has influenced India's participation in the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and it has actually put the two neighbors in opposite positions in a zero-sum game.
A typical Western view of the countries engaging in the BRI is that these states are attracted to China's money. What matters is not whether the BRI is part of China's strategy, but that it can stimulate and promote the development of countries along the route. Development is the first priority. In the current globalization process, development requires cooperation as well as infrastructure construction.Why are countries along the BRI willing to approach China? This is the crux of the matter.