Beijing: – The Chinese rulers announced the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with an ambition to surpass the United States, to become the superpower of the world. But after this scheme started receiving major jolts, the Chinese government has begun promoting the Digital Silk Road. The work of most crucial part of the scheme, the Peace Submarine Cable, will start from the next month. But various think tanks and analysts have warned that this ambitious Chinese plan is a way of getting a grip on the underdeveloped and developing countries through the technology channel.
In 2013, China announced the BRI with the big pomp. In the next few years, more than 100 countries joined the project – these included countries from Africa, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The Chinese communist regime had claimed that a road and rail network would be built to increase trade cooperation, with an investment of a whopping $1 trillion.
But the criticism that this is a Chinese ploy to increase its area of influence around the world became intense over the last few years. At the same time, the developments in Malaysia, Sri Lanka and African countries revealed that China is systematically trapping the small countries under a massive debt burden. The discontent regarding China has intensified in view of the Coronavirus pandemic; it has been exposed the work on the projects under the BRI has come to a standstill. Against this background, China has chosen the technology sector to fulfil its ambitions and the moves to dominate the world through this are gaining momentum.
It has been revealed that China has spent more than $80 billion for the Digital Silk Road. The investment has been in Undersea Internet Cables, Data Centres, Artificial Intelligence and research in Robotics, smart cities, infrastructure for 5G technology and smartphone manufacturing. It has also been exposed that China is using the scheme to develop a Digital Economy in the African and Southeast Asian countries. Many countries from Asia and Africa are joining the Chinese scheme not to lag behind, while the United States and Europe march ahead in digital technology.
But in view of the actions taken in the South China Sea, Hongkong, Taiwan, and atrocities against Uyghurs and the stand taken in the Coronavirus pandemic, resentment is intensifying against China. It is predicted that even the Digital Silk Road will be hit in this. The United States has already indicated that this scheme could prove a threat to national security. After that, the countries that have joined the scheme also are viewing it with suspicion. Experts, as well as officials in Malaysia and Myanmar, have started issuing warnings over the sovereignty as well as economic matters. The US and European analysts also have warned that the Digital Silk Road is a monopoly based on technology.
Ignoring these warnings, China is trying hard to push the scheme. The undersea cable being laid near the Pakistan coast is considered a part of the same scheme. China claims that the work to lay a 15,000-kilometre long undersea cable to France via Egypt will be completed before the end of this year.