SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English

Li Gangzhe “ ‘Chinese Dream’ which bounds for the West and the Future of Asia (No. 1)”

The 48th SGRA Forum (the 14th Japan-Korea Asia Future Forum) was held at the National Olympics Memorial Youth Center in Yoyogi, Tokyo on February 7. This forum was co-sponsored by ‘SGRA Research Association for Asia Initiative’ and ‘Japan-Korea Asia Future Forum’.  I like to report the status quo and the problem of the dynamism of rapid economic growth in Asia from a viewpoint of building of logistic systems.


The writer reported about dreams for the future of Asia and the present under the title “Asian Highway Network and Regional Integration” – its status quo and problems – “.

Ten years ago, I, as a member of National Institute for Research Advancement (NIRA),  a Japanese national think tank which has been participating in research and policy recommendation about the “North-East Asian Grand Design” which is a joint project among NIRA, Korea Research Institute for Human Settlement (KRIHS), and National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).  KRIHS and NDRC are think tanks of Korea and China. I have been studying for a few years now about the future, the present and the problems of the integrated logistics in North-East Asia, especially the Asia-Highway Network, Japan-Korea Undersea Tunnel Plan and “North-East Asian Logistic Network Plan”.


“Asian Highway Network” which aggregates Asia into one has been proposed and promoted by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).  Thirty-two countries from Asia and Europe have already signed the participation agreement among these countries as of the year 2004. Starting from Nihon-bashi, Tokyo (AH1) at the east end to Istanbul at the west end, Asian countries will cooperate and together develop and realize their dreams of peace and prosperity. Of the total length of 141,714 km, 26,699 km in China were designated to the “Asian Highway Network.” The traffic network is planned to expand through the continental region of China, to Southeast Asia, West Asia, Central Asia, North Asia and Russia.


An important idea which provides a strong impact for materialization of the Asian Highway Network was proposed by China’s General Secretary, Xi Jinping .  It is called “One Belt, One Road” (一帯一路).  China would utilize the “One Belt, One Road” idea as a new axis for the growth of its present economy, so-called “New Normal” (新常態), developing together with the Asian countries as a new developing “Belt”.


In China, they call the present situation which shows a slowdown of its economy since the spring of 2014 as “New Normal” and the Xi leadership calls for the realization and acceptance of the actual situation of the Chinese economy. Based on such situation, the leadership announced economic strategies and reforms. In the economic and diplomatic relations with other countries, they announced “New Asian Grand Design” (newly coined words by the writer) by the “One Belt, One Road” slogan and are putting it into practice.  This is a new economic and diplomatic strategy of the Xi Jinping Administration. If this plan will progress as planned, the power composition of Asia would change significantly.


The phrase “New Normal” was first proposed to show a new direction of the Chinese economy for a soft landing after a slowdown. But, as long as I have watched the economic and political diplomacy during the latter half of 2014, “New Normal” has been used as new diplomatic strategy of international relations which exceeded the original meaning of just new normal economic condition. Together with “New Normal”, General Secretary Xi Jinping proposed “One Belt, One Road” when he visited countries in Central Asia and South Asia where he appealed for the realization of these ideas..


“One Belt, One Road” is considered as a strategic turning point in the new Asian order from the strategy of “Look East” to “Look West”.  In other words, relations with the advanced countries like Japan and Korea and their strategic value, which China has regarded as important until now, have lowered in importance. And India, Southeast Asia and Central Asia, instead, will be targets of strategic development by China. India and China are now the two “Elephant and Dragon” in Asia in the sense  not only of economic development but also politically and diplomatically. They think “Elephant and Dragon” will be the center of the future world.


I think such Chinese changes in diplomatic policy and the strategies for the world and Asia would cause negative impact in international relations and economic cooperation in North-East Asia. This is a big change for me – a “North-East Asian” – in the sense that it casts a shadow over my “Dreams and Hopes”.


Mr. Takao Kubo, a scholar of international relations, pointed out in his mail magazine  (“Orta” No.133 dated January 20, 2015) “A sign of reversal of North and South / East and West which progresses simultaneously – thereby accelerating the diastrophism of the world –“, signifying that “American hegemony is declining, the reverse of the North and the South (Advanced countries vs. Developing countries) and the reverse of the East and the West (Asia vs. America and Europe) in the world politics are developing.”

(to be continued)


(Li Gangzhe / Professor, Hokuriku University)



Translated by Kazuo Kawamura

English checked by Mac Maquito


SGRA Kawaraban 451 in Japanese (original)