The Belt and Road initiative is one of the key visions of the Chinese
government. Focusing on efficient flow of goods, services and
technology, it is a massive investment strategy. While bringing greater
benefit to China it also seeks to address the infrastructural deficit in
Asia and Africa, enhancing local economies and trade.
The terms belt and road are used to represent the
fact that it is not just one logistics network, but is sea land and air
freight working together. As well as this literal meaning, there can be
an anecdotal use derived from these two words which is entirely
appropriate. First, a belt is a harness employed to hold something
important in place. It is a structural element. Then, a road leads
somewhere; it links one group with another. It is a means of
This structural element combines China’s trading heritage and modern
initiative, while involving and benefiting many other nations.
Investment often precedes interaction, and to begin to pave this
road, China has invested heavily. For example, China has invested in
Kenya’s railroad network, advanced hydropower in Pakistan and
streamlined trade between itself and Kazakhstan.
It seems Chinese leadership has been quick to recognize that
different countries have different skills, needs and contributions in
relation to this initiative.
A year before Mao Ze Dong declared the creation of the People’s
Republic of China, the State of Israel was declared. Also an ancient
nation, after 2,000 years of having no state or territory, Israel rose
again like the famed Phoenix.
Israel is a nation of about 8.5 million people, compared with China’s
1.4 billion. Yet Israel is not only a hub along the Belt and Road, her
expertise is vital to help propel China’s great global initiative.
In ancient times, Israel was the crossroads of the world. People
travelling from Africa into Asia, from Europe to Egypt, the Middle East
to Mesopotamia all passed through Israel’s territory. Today, especially
with the Belt and Road Initiative, Israel has not only again
re-established her nationhood, but also her strategic geographical role.
Israel specializes in green infrastructure and high-tech. Limited
space and climate realities demanded that it quickly adapt and improvise
after achieving nationhood. Arid wastelands have been transformed into
lush and productive agricultural projects. A specialized export industry
flourishes from a nation that did not even tangibly exist a century
before. It certainly has proven experience and expertise to pass on.
Many specialized developments along this network are giving greater
scope for Israeli technology. For instance, use of robotics,
construction of bridges, railway and ports all call for know-how and
products pioneered and designed in Israel.
At the same time, Israel is interested to learn from China’s world
leading e-commerce experience. Here is a good example of two nations
differing greatly in size and requirements, mutually benefitting each
Another spin off is tourism. The number of Chinese tourists
travelling to Israel has risen by over 40 percent every year for the
last decade or so. In 2017 Chinese tourists to Israel exceeded 100,000.
As a belt gives structure and support, this initiative nurtures and
enhances trade opportunities, and as a road connects people, it brings
cultures closer together with the chance of mutual appreciation and
When it comes to doing business, China certainly “knows how to fish”.
Through the Belt and Road Initiative it not only protects its future
trade interests, but also is helping other nations to “fish” more
Mark Buckle is a New Zealander who has lived, worked and studied in China for the last 7 years.
The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not represent the views of China Daily and China Daily website.