CHINA - The New Silk Road

Arno Froese

Representatives from dozens of countries are gathering in Beijing to mark the 10th anniversary of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a signature foreign policy initiative for China’s leader, Xi Jinping.

Beijing says the BRI is a global good that helps close the infrastructure gap. But as China’s relationship with the West continues to fracture, observers are scrutinizing the geopolitical implications of the initiative, and they say the list of high-profile attendees says it all.

Beijing says that since its inception a decade ago, more than 150 countries have signed agreements under the auspices of the BRI. But controversies—from alleged predatory lending and crippling debt to environmental damage—have always surrounded the Chinese initiative. 

Through the Belt and Road, China has projected itself as one of the few countries putting development back on the table in international forums, and it’s noticeable that Beijing’s modus vivendi has set itself apart from democracies such as the United States, says Hong Zhang, a researcher at Harvard Kennedy School, who studies China’s international development engagements.

“China wants to project an impression that it’s championing the agenda of economic development—namely through infrastructure-building and industrialization,” says Hong Zhang, a researcher at Harvard Kennedy School. “At the same time, Beijing has taken advantage of many critiques of the Western countries’ approach to foreign aid, which contains conditionalities related to good governance and human rights, and seeks to portray itself as a pragmatic partner.”, 17 October 2023

Arno's Commentary

The ancient Silk Road was built to exchange goods such as silk, spices, minerals, handicrafts, architectural paintings, precious metals, and included theatrical performances, dance, music, and art. It linked the Western world with the Middle East and Asia. This was not an actual, single road but rather a network of routes used by traders for more than 1,500 years. With Europe being the world-dominating power, trade between the East and the West was profitable for both sides.

Today, things have changed. The newly established European nations on the American continent—particularly the USA—became the global powerhouse and virtually dominated the commercial world. At the beginning of the 1900s, the United States single-handedly produced about 50% of global manufacturing. The last reliable statistic (from 2018) shows China’s manufacturing output at 28.4% worldwide, and United States a distant 16.6%. 

This does not mean less manufacturing output for the US, which skyrocketed from 1948-2015. Yet, globally speaking, it’s a different story. China’s desire and aim seems to follow in the footsteps of the USA—to be the all-inclusive number one when it comes to manufacturing output globally.

Therefore, the Belt and Road Initiative, now 10 years in the making, serves to make the world more dependent on China than ever before.

Will that happen? Reading the prophet Daniel, we have four world superpower structures listed: 1) Babylon, 2) Medo-Persia, 3) Greece, and 4) Rome. Rome represents Europe, and Europe has been the only continent that conquered the rest of the world.

What is the future? Daniel 2:45 answers: “Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.” When will that occur? At the end of the Great Tribulation, as clearly outlined in Revelation 18.

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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