By Roy Mabasa
The Philippines has proposed the development of a 21st Century “third route” to complement and extend China’s “Belt and Road” Initiative.
According to Special Envoy for Inter-Cultural Dialogue Jose C. De Venecia Jr., this proposed “third route” would make China’s ‘Belt and Road initiative “almost globally inclusive and create a linkage with two more continents – Australia and Latin America – in a new circumnavigation, in a revivable of the Age of Exploration, and new spirit in the Age of Globalization.”
It was during a visit in Central and Southeast Asia in September and October of 2013 that Chinese President Xi Jinping raised the initiative of jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, later shortened to the Belt and Road Initiative.
The initiative is aimed at improving land and sea connectivity between regions in terms of infrastructure, business, culture, and financial services and is expected to elevate 3 billion more people to the middle class by 2050 and help increase global trade by $2.5 trillion (roughly P124.2 trillion) in the next decade.
De Venecia said from Hainan island off Guangdong province in southern China, the proposed third route could also pass first through the Philippines, then Malaysia, Indonesia, and the small island nation of Timor Leste onwards.
He pointed out the currently an agri-tourism belt and large petro-chemical and industrial complex is being planned for implementation by pioneering Chinese and Filipino groups in Northwestern Philippines as part of an extended Belt and Maritime Road plan.
The former House speaker said from Timor Leste to Australia’s Gold Coast to Sydney, and New Zealand, the extended route could move across the south Pacific, and enter Latin America: Chile, Argentina, Brazil and the tourism-rich Caribbean islands, then Mexico, all the way to the US as in the old days of the Galleon Trade from Manila to Acapulco, Mexico, which sailed for 250 years.
“It is not far-fetched, for there are already multiple large Chinese investments in South America,” said De Venecia. “And at some point, we said the Latinos should also bring their trade to the south Pacific and into Asia.”
The proposal for a third route was made at the “High-Level Dialogue in China’s Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation” in Beijing last May 15.
The forum was attended by more than 40 heads of state and government and former presidents, former premiers and heads of international congregations.
According to De Venecia, the proposal was made “in order to expand, deepen and strengthen the cultural, geo-political, geo-economic, trade and people-to-people linkages of the historic Silk Road.
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