Coordinator: Arturo Oropeza García.
First edition: 2020.
The first opening and reform of China in 1978 comes as an obligatory act, as an exogenous alternative that helps to alleviate the serious social lags of food, clothing, and housing suffered by the Chinese population as a result of the economic insufficiency of its post-revolutionary period.
In its millenary trajectory, as the oldest living society on Earth, China had never opened, so its opening was quite an event that generated innumerable concerns both in its internal life and in a global society that had already forgotten its importance and its historic success.
The first reform and opening of China, oriented towards the Pacific, which was its strategic strength, was conducted as an experiment in an economic orbit that China did not know. Despite this, China managed its opening with great talent in spite of its structural and financial weakness and its lack of experience in inhabiting the capitalist world of development and the market.
After 42 years, the economic, social, and political successes of its decision to open itself up to the global world of its time are beyond doubt, and these successes are entirely well known.
From the China of Deng Xiaoping of 1978, that launches a project of global reform within the framework of its economic weakness and large social needs, we moved, in 2012, to a China of Xi Jinping, which, in line with its shocking economic and geopolitical success, warns us of a second phase of reforms and opening, now toward the West, through the launch of the BRI project (Belt and Road Initiative).
Since its start, the BRI is presented as a project of great dimensions that involves more than 70 countries from Asia, Eastern Europe, and Africa; approximately 70% of the world population, 55% of the world economic GDP, and 75% of the world oil and gas reserves.
From a China, apprentice of the global phenomenon, we now turn to a China that takes the banner of 21st century economic development and, through the BRI, invites the majority of the world population to the integration of a new strategy of fairer and more reasonable development.
The global society that contemplated the opening of China in the seventies with surprise and carelessness, faced with the strength of the now second world economy, wonders about the terms of the strategy and dimensions of the BRI, and together with it, about the economic and political objectives that China is pursuing with it.
President Xi Jinping announced the BRI in Kazakhstan in 2013, and he ratified its maritime part in Indonesia in the same year. However, the structure and content of the BRI are still in their formative stage, where a good part of its central aspects are expectations. Nevertheless, in 2015, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), in coordination with the Ministries of Trade and Foreign Affairs, through the agreement entitled Vision and Actions on Jointly Building Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, issued the statement of its objectives, background, and general projects. To date, this Program contains the general elements of the proposal. The fact that it is an international cooperation initiative for a more reasonable and fairer global governance stands out among its objectives. It is a proposal for the facilitation and opening of markets to increase trade and investment, favoring a more rational regulation of international trade. It serves as a tool to stimulate regional cooperation, which proposes a new thinking and a new project to perfect global governance (Shicheng, 2018).
Despite its short institutional life, the BRI is currently supported by nearly 100 countries and international organizations. China has already signed Agreements of Cooperation with 40 of these countries and has invested nearly 50 billion dollars. Moreover, six International Economic Cooperation Corridors and 56 economic cooperation zones, with more than 20 countires, have been installed through the BRI scheme, through which 180,000 new jobs have been created in the BRI countries. Alongside this, multiple government scholarships, social programs of support and welfare, South-South aid programs, and health and poverty improvement packages, etc. have come about.
The financial strength of the project is supported by its own Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB, 2015), together with the Silk Road Fund (SRF, 2015) and the New Development Bank (NDB, 2015), as well as the entire Chinese stateowned banks and international financial bodies.
Furthermore the special proposal of the Digital Silk Road, presented as an innovative instrument typical of the 21st century, enriches the regional integration process. It breaks with previous integration models and suggests that the agreements to be reached in the coming decades should include these alternatives, which are already making a difference in the economic development of the world.
Despite its short Introduction,the initiative already presents itself as the most important geopolitical and geo-economic project of the century, with characteristics and definitions that in many cases break with the trade paradigms that dominated the 20th century.
Therefore, in this take-off of the BRI through multiple initiatives, credits, actions, plans, regions, etc. of different speeds and depths in six economic corridors and about 70 countries, knowing the level and scope of the proposal becomes an imperative for academia, the private sector, and the public sector in general, with the idea of establishing the appropriate benchmarking and opportunity lines that proceed from it, as well as clarifying its impact or possible consequences on the internal life of the other countries and regions of the world.
Under this concern, the Institute of Juridical Research (IIJ) of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), established the need to carry out a comprehensive investigation of the BRI. Through it, both the geostrategic elements, which originated it, and the first results of its contact with the various regions and nations of the BRI system could be known. The premise is that the global society now finds itself in a period of profound transformation, of the realignment of geoeconomic and geopolitical actors and blocs, which must be known in a timely manner.
For this purpose, the participation of 26 specialists from Asia, the United States, and Latin America was scheduled, under an interdisciplinary index, to contribute to better understanding the global phenomenon of the BRI. We deeply appreciate the generous participation of all the participants of each of the invited countries in the completion of this book, understanding that its content is just a starting point for a task that will demand, in the coming decades, the greatest study and rigor to interpret a multi-factorial strategy that in any of its scenarios is already changing the paradigms of the 21st century.