Roads I get – but Belts?


It is a general rule of thumb that when you are surrounded by zombies muttering gibberish, you need to flee, or join in. Hong Kong has suddenly been taken over by people loudly insisting on the importance of ‘One Belt, One Road’. We don’t know what it means. They don’t know what it means. The word has gone out: everyone start singing the praises of ‘One Belt, One Road’ with immediate effect until further instructions are received.

Thus the South China Morning Post publishes an advertorial to hype it up. We are invited to consider the possibility that “maybe Hongkongers lack enthusiasm for, or a comprehensive understanding of,” the apparently meaningless slogan. It goes on to quote pro-Beijing quote-person Lau Siu-kai as saying Hongkongers should abandon their “narrow-minded focus on local issues” – in other words, presumably, stop worrying about unaffordable SCMP-HK-OneBelt2housing or unmanageable numbers of Mainland shoppers, and start thinking ‘One Belt, One Road’.

However, this is not just another ‘We should focus on the economy’ thing to try to divert attention from Hong Kong’s rotten governance. We are told that Africa, no less, should be ‘inserted’ into ‘One Belt, One Road’ (not vice versa), and that we should really freak out at the amazing parallels between ‘ASEAN Connectivity’ and ‘One Belt, One Road’. The Moon is next.

According to some sources, it is China’s version of the Marshall Plan (the classic example of enlightened self-interest through which the US funded Western European recovery after World War II, and which has zero relevance here). A map not very usefully suggests that the ‘Belt’ goes overland, while the ‘Road’ goes over the sea. Some commentators calmly suggest that the whole concept is just a gimmicky label for ‘Asian infrastructure development’ – but obviously it doesn’t mean that, because they would have called it ‘Asian infrastructure development’, not ‘One Belt, One Road’, wouldn’t they?

One clue is in today’s SCMP Business section, which, as so often, goes horribly off-message in pursuit of decent journalism. China lost the plot in Sri Lanka, siding with the wrong side in its over-eagerness to establish commercial or maybe not-so-commercial outposts in other parts of the world. Boosting power by propping up unpopular ruler-clients is kind-of 1950s, we will recall, and not invariably successful. (What happens to the ready access to Zimbabwe’s manganese after Robert Mugabe goes, by the way?)

Another clue is in the Western response to China’s neo-mercantilist/imperialism thing. Besotted with China Hype (and desperate), most US allies have rushed to join Beijing’s passé-sounding AIIB investment bank, which emulates post-war institutions of little ongoing use like the IMF, ADB, etc. Meanwhile, Barron’s thoughtfully recommends stock picks for readers keen to share in the profit to be had from China’s friendly cooperation and partnership with the rest of Asia. China’s Communist leaders, indulging in this contrived Cold War II, must be recalling Lenin’s supposed thoughts that ‘the capitalists will sell us the rope we hang them with’.

So let us all stop asking why – just join hands and jump and down together in frenzied glee chanting ‘One Belt, One Road’!

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16 Responses to Roads I get – but Belts?

  1. Joe Blow says:

    Which genius invited 689 to the Sevens ?

  2. anon says:

    Geez. Why are you so bitter towards all things Chinese…

  3. Real Tax Payer says:

    The good news is that the protesters ( remaining sole protester ?) outside the British Consulate / British Council , opposite the Island Shangrila have/ has finally given up and cleared away over the Sevens w/e.

    (Maybe they covertly wanted to watch the Sevens ! )

    That stooopid protest site was a constant eyesore on my morning walk to HK Park and I was astonished that the British Consulate did not take out an injunction to clear it long ago.
    I asked the security person at the British Council if the protest zone was cleared forcibly or voluntarily. Apparently it was cleared voluntarily “but I’m just so happy to see a clear open space again outside our front door instead of all that ‘litter – rubbish – protest-tent -thing ‘ ”
    Thus commonsense eventually prevails – unless , that is – you are an editor of Fortune magazine and you still regard J Wong esq. as one of the top ten leaders in 2014.

    Madness still prevails in the land of the free.

  4. Headache says:

    anon: I think the issue is the mindless propagation of a meaningless slogan which, although a Chinese communist speciality, would be equally open to ridicule if it came from elsewhere.

  5. Chinese Netizen says:

    One Belt, One Road!!

  6. NIMBY says:

    It’s a bad translation. Chinese does not treat numbers quite the same urgency as western languages, no singular vs. plural , classifiers, etc. It’s more in the spirit of

    Have a belt of whiskey** before you hit the road. (**Maotai, Xiaoxing, what ever rocks your boat)

    Kind of contradicts the “No Drink Driving” campaign, but fair warning we have a bunch of nutters drunk on power at the wheel.

  7. Joe Blow says:

    Oh dear, Real Sax Player is still alive ! I thought he had bored himself to death.

  8. PCC says:

    When the belt came out during my formative years, it was followed by much wailing and gnashing of teeth (mine). Thankfully, my psychiatrist who won’t be too fussy about upping my meds until this whole thing blows over. Thanks for nothing, Mr. Xi.

  9. PD says:

    The way One Belt, One Road has been presented, it will help China gradually take over every country in the world — except, for some reason, the Americas.

  10. Cassowary says:

    One Belt, One Trouser.
    One Belt, Two Buttocks.
    No Belt, One Plumber’s Crack.

  11. nulle says:

    guys, missed a golden opportunity to nail 689 right between the eyes during the sevens…

    not the first time CCP caught on the wrong side of the plot, remember Libya with the CCP providing weapons of all kids (including the chemical and biological variety) to Gadalfi during the Libyian revolution?

    CCP is a bunch of hypocrites telling others to stop minding in Chinese internal affairs while the Chinese CCP minding internal affairs of others all over the world (ie Libya, Sri Lanka)

  12. NIMBY says:

    Now, lets all remember the real threat is Boris.

    PD: Americas are important. Got to have somewhere to launder the money, stash the mistress and various half-brothers and sisters, as the Chunnel will connect London to China/PLA.

  13. Scotty Dotty says:

    Any chance this irony works in Beijing?

    In the nineteenth century when Rhodes was implementing a British “belt” in Africa from Cape Colony (later South Africa) to Egypt, with Rhodesia so modestly placed in the middle, THAT was wicked imperialism.

    But when China plans a similar thing in the twenty-first century… ah, now, THAT is different. That’s legitimate national expression.

  14. inspired says:

    Scotty, irony still doesn’t work so well in Beijing as goldy, platinumy, and diamondy

    (with apologies to Tony Robinson)

  15. Maugrim says:

    Queen were ahead of the CG, one clam, one chicken, one sex position

  16. Probably says:

    Is the “one belt” the one that Red Guards used to beat people with during the Cultural Revolution?

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