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New dynamism in Eastern Europe and Central Asia
Source: chinadaily Date: 2016-11-04
Premier Li Keqiang advocates the establishment of a free-trade zone at the 15th Meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Council of Heads of Governments in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on Nov 3, 2016. LIU ZHEN / CHINA NEWS SERVICE
‘It’s the economy, stupid’. This is the famous quote of former US President Bill Clinton that is remembered by the American people.
The essence of this quote is that every government should be concerned with improving the economy, more jobs, more economic growth, more trade and better livelihood for the people.
The recent developments in Asia provide ample proof that the governments of the day are very clear about their mission, that is to bring economic growth to their country and improving the quality of life of their people.
President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines and Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia have been walking the talk, abandoning provocative and unproductive foreign policies that raised tensions and instead opt for peaceful economic cooperation and more trade.
On the sideline, away from the limelight and Western media focus, a new dynamism is rising in Central and Eastern Europe, spanning eastward through Central Asia to Russia and China where economic activities and infrastructure development have been going on in rapid pace and unceasingly for the last two decades.
Countries in these regions have been by passed in growth and development for the last couple of centuries when the international trade and economic activities were centered around coastal cities in Europe, Africa and Asia due to the dominant mode of transportation, the high reliance on the sea and shipping.
Maritime ports and coastal cities rose and grew and prospered while landlocked states and cities like those in Eastern Europe and Central Asia were left behind, forgotten due to difficulties in transportation and inaccessible by sea.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization consisting of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and its new members India and Pakistan, have been focusing on the development of the Central Asian states to promote the economic activities and quality of life of the Central Asian people. China’s One Belt and One Road Project, with the full support of the SCO members, has opened up new avenues and opportunities to not only the Central Asian states but also the Central and Eastern European states.
These states are no longer constrained by their lack of sea ports and unable to participate in the main stream of economic activities and international trade. With the construction of high speed train lines and roads across central Asia linking these states to China in the East, Russia in the North and Europe in the West, and southern Asia, trade and economic activities would now be facilitated by the more efficient and cost effective roads and rail system than by the sea.
A new corridor of once forgotten states smacked right in between Europe and China would be the new future of economic transformation with new transportation hubs and new city centers springing up among them. They would replace the traditional maritime trade routes between Europe and East Asia and would be the new region of economic growth, bringing prosperity to these countries and their people.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is on a eight-day visit to the SCO countries and nations in Central and Eastern Europe to sign up more economic cooperation, education, people to people exchanges and infrastructure development agreements with these countries.
Among his stops would be Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Latvia and Russia. With friendly relations, peace and political stability in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and with the Chinese One Road and One Belt initiative backed up by Chinese technology, construction and engineering expertise and financing, this Eastern Europe and Central Asia corridor is becoming the new growth centre of the 21st Century.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is on the right track with a new formula to promote growth, economic development and cooperation and for world peace.
The formula would not only benefit the Central and Eastern European countries and countries in Central Asia, it would also benefit Europe and the rest of Asia and the world.
The author is a political observer from Singapore.
The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and don't represent views of China Daily website.