Chinese and Nigerian construction workers work on the site of an Islamic university in Niamey, Niger, Feb. 22, 2016. (Joe Penney / Reuters)
The Webb Schools

One belt, one road: The Silk Road’s resurrection

Now I can’t tell you what is in your computer: what the processing card is or how much RAM it holds. But what I can tell you is that your computer has rare earth metals. I can also bet that it’s made in China mostly because they control the manufacturing industry. However, their quest for hegemony doesn’t end there. Recently, they’ve rolled out their billion dollar infrastructure plan — the one belt one road policy.

Back in the day, there was a route for trade known as the Silk Road.  It was active during 114 BCE to 1450s CE and extended from Europe and Egypt to China India and China through Arabia and Persia, making it one of the longest and most extensive trade routes in history.

Evidence of the trade route still exists from the Chinese artifacts found in European ruins. However, president of China, Xi Jinping, seeks to resurrect this trade route to more modern means. In other words, he is recreating the Silk Road but not with rudimentary technology like dirt roads but with an infrastructure plan.

As Business Insider puts it, the One Belt One Road Policy is primarily concerned with technology, infrastructure, and energy. Its aim is to link counties all across Europe and Africa to China economically. But why didn’t they do this plan in the past?

Image result for silk road

(Image courtesy of Britannica)

)Following 2016, after Trump’s election, America faced a period of isolationism. The idea of an isolated America certainly benefited American domestic issues but increased problems globally. For example, this isolationism has led to discord with organizations like NATO as well as a loss of connection with smaller African and European countries. China, now, is ripe to take that role. Their economic power recently has been tremendous; this coupled with America’s isolationist stance makes it the perfect chance for them to link themselves with these smaller countries. However, these smaller countries, not only provide global relations and an improvement in trade, but are also mines for rare earth metals.

Rare earth metals are what powers technology. The intel chip in your laptop or desktop is made from rare earth metals.  These rare earth metals, such as cobalt, come from African countries that are a part of this One Belt One Road initiative. The South China Morning Post puts it perfectly. They write that American tariffs on these goods against china are crippling for America since they will simply have to pay more since China controls almost all of the rare earth metal supply.   

Though I am not an experienced politician, I feel that there is a solution to this predicament. America needs to reconsider its isolationist approach to foreign affairs. Though it may have brought short term benefits, the world is becoming increasingly interconnected.

Currently, we are facing the most volatile era ever. If we lose grip even a bit on our hegemony, we will falter and other countries will rise to take our spot. Even now, as our grip loosens with our isolationist approach, China has risen to take over our role as the global hegemony. Thus, to combat this, we must simply push back with our own infrastructure plans which we have. However, that is not enough. We need to completely rethink our foreign affair policy in attempts to change the global perspective of modern America.