US revives Silk Road projects in bid to counter China’s ‘soft power’ ambitions

New Silk Road: The Trump administration  this week announced  it was reviving  two major infrastructure projects in South and Southeast Asia in a move that is being interpreted as a foil to China’s ambitious Belt and Road initiative (OBOR) – the New Silk Road initiative (NSR). and the Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor.
First tabled in 2011 by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,  the NSR  covers a suite of joint investment projects and regional trade blocs intended  to bring economic growth and stability to Central Asia in Afghanistan.
“Turkmen gas fields could help meet both Pakistan’s and India’s growing energy needs and provide significant transit revenues for both Afghanistan and Pakistan,” she said in a speech in Chennai. “Tajik cotton could be turned into Indian linens. Furniture and fruit from Afghanistan could find its way to the markets of Astana or Mumbai and beyond.”
Two years later, Clinton’s successor John Kerry told delegates at the  U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue that the US was “cooperating to realize the potential of the Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor, which can spur development and investment as well as trade and transit between the dynamic economies of South and Southeast Asia.” The Corridor would connect India with South Asia, South East Asia and East Asia through Myanmar.
A brief outline of the two projects was made available in the administration’s maiden annual budget on Tuesday, which indicated that the NSR would be a public- private initiative in which India  would be an important player.
With  China committed to spending billions on transport and infrastructure projects – including the $50bn China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)  running from the Pakistani port of Gwadar up to Xinjiang –  Trump’s decision to revive the two projects is clearly a signal to the authorities in Beijing that they are not the only ones with soft power ambitions in Asia; and It will certainly not have escaped his notice that India boycotted this month’s OBOR summit in the Chinese capital expressly due to sovereignty concerns over the CPEC and its planned route through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Source: india