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Chinese President Encourages ASEAN Countries in Joining ‘Digital Silk Road’

Chinese President Encourages ASEAN Countries in Joining ‘Digital Silk Road’

Part of the reason why the Chinese government turned bullish when it came to blockchain technology and a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), was because of the country’s vision for economic development and trade. However, it now appears that the Xi administration is ready to use the same technology for handling the Belt and Road initiative, which is one of its most ambitious projects. Earlier this week, representatives of a number of top Asian economies were told by Xi Jinping to join the country in developing the ‘digital Silk Road’. The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported that a speech was made by the president at the China-ASEAN Expo that was held in Nanning.

He highlight that ASEAN countries were taken seriously by Beijing and they hoped to partner with them in developing a more fruitful economic future. Xi sent a recorded message to the Asian leaders and assured them that China would continue to open up to them, as it was the only high-performing economy that was part of the 10-country economy bloc. Xi said that they would help in trading, considering the fact that every country was trying to build their economies after the havoc wreaked by the global coronavirus pandemic. 

The president said that China would expand how it opens up to the rest of the world by enhancing its international and domestic linkages. He said that the country would drive the world’s recovery through its own and this would benefit all countries around the world, including ASEAN countries. He added that there will be more future between ASEAN and China in the future. It appears that the ambitious Belt and Road initiative of the country was mentioned in the speech, which had been launched in 2013. Many described the project as the 21st century Silk Road, similar to the old trade routes that formed most of the developed world.

According to reports, this Belt and Road initiative would connect trade routes in Europe, Asia and Africa. The project comprises of a ‘belt’ of overland corridors, and the term ‘road’ refers to shipping lanes. There are almost 70 countries included in it, which account for 50% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s GDP. According to estimates from Morgan Stanley, the project could cost around $1 trillion. It was reported that $210 billion has already been invested by the Chinese government, and most of the money has been spent in Asia. 

While Xi didn’t elaborate what he meant by the ‘digital Silk Road’, China has seemed to be quite bullish in the past couple of years, when it comes to making technological innovations for trade. This is partly because of its focus on blockchain, as they have filed a lot of patents related to this technology. According to a report, almost 4,435 blockchain patents have been filed by Chinese companies since the technology was endorsed by the government. There has also been significant progress over the digital yuan, which could have a 2022 launch date. 

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