Collaborative Modernization
-- The Essence of “the Belt and Road Initiative”

By Ke Yinbin
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, October 28, 2015
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Goal: realizing common interests

The classical modernization theory is nation-state-oriented and considers a country's own development and the maximization of its interests as the highest goal. The B&R Initiative breaks through this limitation and clearly puts forward the aim for "common interests." For example, "the initiative isaimed at expanding the common interests of Asian countries," "will bring real benefits for these regions and countries," "is a way for win-win cooperation that promotes common development and prosperity," "is a great undertaking that will benefit people around the world. Jointly building the “'Belt and Road' is in the fundamental interests of the world community and reflects the common ideals and pursuit of human societies," and etc.

The highest goal of "collaborative modernization" is to realize the common interests of humankind. It can be gradually achieved only after the highest goal is decomposed into targets in different fields and various geographical areas, forming a target system. The common interests of various geographical areas include: the common interests of Asia, the common interests of Eurasia, the common interests of Asia, Europe and Africa, and the common interests of the world; the common interests in different fields include those related to economy, the society, culture, security, and so on.

We believe that the existence of "common interests" is the objective foundation for the B&R Initiative, the recognition of "common interests" is the key to turn the vision into action, and the realization of "common interests" is the ultimate goal.

The main players: community composed of a number of countries

The world's modernization process has once witnessed colonialism, imperialism and hegemony. Their core is "inequality," that is, only to consider the realization of a country's own interests without regard to others' and even at the sacrifice of others' interests. What leads to this kind of "inequality" lies in the theory of nation-state-oriented classical modernization.

The official documents about the B&R Initiative have made it clear that they are the common undertaking of China and its Asian neighbors. The initiative is not closed but open and inclusive; it does not constitute a solo performed by China, but rather a chorus of all the countries along the route.The countries concerned are based on, but not limited to the route of the ancient Silk Road. All countries, as well as international and regional organizations, are welcome to participate, so achievements made through joint contribution will benefit wider areas and more participants.

It indicates that the players engaged in building the "Belt and Road" is not China or some other country, but can be all countries in the world. That is to say, a community composed of more than one countryis the main player, which is completely consistent with "collaborative modernization.”

Which countries can form a community? It depends on their understanding and recognition of "common interests." As long as the countries reach consensus on their "common interests" in some connectivity project or some field of international cooperation, they can form a community that is the very player inbuilding the "Belt and Road."

Therefore, it seems that the process of building the "Belt and Road" and the formation of communities of common interests of different types and levels are two sides of the same coin. Construction of the "Belt and Road" needs to be promoted by various communities of common interests, while the formation and expansion of various communities of common interests and the increase in their number is the very process of building the "Belt and Road."

Principles: "wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits" and "win-win cooperation"

The principle of the classical modernization theory is to win in competition. In order to realize modernization, all countries rush to compete with each other; in order to gain victory for themselves and their allies, some countries don't even hesitate to resort to force and launch wars to maintain their own interests. In European history, big powers constantly started wars to fight for colonies that culminated in two world wars in the 20th century. These disasters caused by the competition in modernization seriously damaged the progress and development of human society.

The official documents about the B&R Initiative have clearly put forward the principles of "wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits," that is, jointly formulating guidelines and policies through consultation, jointly promoting project construction and jointly sharing construction achievements. It completely abandons the traditional principle of gaining victory in competition and the zero-sum mentality featuring a single winner. That is the very detailed manifestation and implementation of the core principle of "win-win cooperation" in "collaborative modernization," that is, realizing the common interests of all participants.

Chinese government documents about the B&R Initiative also illustrate the principle of joint contribution in detail: The initiative is in line with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, open for cooperation, harmonious and inclusive.The initiative follows market operation and seeks mutual benefit. However, there is no detailed discussion in official documents on the principles of "wide consultation and shared benefits".

Contents: Connectivity is the mainstream.

Industrialization is the mainstream of classical modernization. There are even some scholars who believe that modernization refers to industrialization.

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