top of page

The third phase of Belt and Road. The defense of foreign interests by military force

The accumulation of overseas interests is what the Belt and Road Initiative does in a big way. According to PLA strategic planners, "where national interests expand, military force support must follow." BRI activities and business investments are obvious development interests abroad, so the People's Liberation Army, aided by Chinese diplomacy, will have to develop cooperation and capabilities to defend these utilities. And, alongside the PLA, which operates as a ret- roguard, China already has, in foreign countries, several private security companies (PSCs) ready to intervene militarily. Of course, China does not recognize any formal connection between the Belt and Road and the People's Liberation Army. But, in reality, the expansion of investment interests abroad through the BRI requires that the PLA's protection roles and missions keep pace with them. Extract from the book "Xi Jinping's China. Towards a new Sinocentric world order?", Nicola and Gabriele Iuvinale, Antonio Stango Editore, 2023.



The "rules-based international order" has given itself multilaterally agreed and legally binding norms governing the acquisition and protection of foreign interests. But for the system to work, in the absence of a single global government, all contracting parties must abide by the norms they have pledged to uphold, even in good faith. There is only one right way to protect foreign interests: the "rules-based order. "176

Another path, unjustifiable and illegitimate, is to forcefully claim new rights and impose new rules of governance in order to improve one's own interests at the expense of existing rules and the rights of other actors. It is international politics seen not only as a "zero-sum'' game, in which the advantages gained by one of the actors are, by definition, equivalent to those lost by one or more of the others, but even as a struggle to consolidate them at- traversing the repudiation of the international order or a rewriting of it "ad usum Delphini."

The accumulation of overseas interests is what the Belt and Road Initiative does in a big way.

China builds ports, plantations, mines, railways, industrial parks and trade zones, new markets, new transportation routes and overseas citizen communities, and planned to protect them. "This means that Beijing's global economic activity is now linked to China's national defense. "177

The BRI infrastructure has been built in accordance with Beijing's formal legal and political mandates implementing mili- tary-civil integration or fusion. In fact, the 2010 National Defense Mobilization Law sta- bilises that civilian infrastructure projects "closely related to national defense must meet national defense requirements and possess the functions" and must be delivered for military use when needed.178

The 13th Five-Year Economic Plan (2017-21) includes integrated projects of civil-military development in overseas maritime regions. The 2015 Defense White Paper calls for infrastructure development that takes into account of both civilian and military use "compatible, complementary, and reciprously accessible." And the 2017 National Transportation Law mandates "planning, construction, management and resource utilization in transportation sectors such as railways, roads, waterways, aviation, pipelines and ports for the purpose of meeting national defense requirements." Chinese state-owned enterprises that design and build BRI infrastructure must act in con- formity with these laws. All this "inevitably leads to the overseas expansion of Chinese activities related to Beijing's internal security. "179

Of course, China does not recognize any formal connection between the Belt and Road and the People's Liberation Army. But, in reality, the expansion of investment interests abroad through the BRI requires that the PLA's protection roles and missions keep pace with them.

According to PLA strategic planners, "where national interests expand, military force support must follow."

Therefore, China's geopolitical influence is advancing with the Belt and Road Initiative and the People's Liberation Army acting as a rear guard to protect investment and trade routes from potential threats.

The 2019 Defense White Paper describes "interests abroad" as operations that must have military support, logistical facilities, ship protection operations, strategic sea route security, and evacuation and maritime rights protection operations. In 2020, the National Defense Law was revised to add "safeguarding Chinese interests abroad" and authorized the PLA to "mobilize its forces" to "defend its national interests and development interests and re-solve differences with the use of force" as additions to the military's "missions and com- munities."

For this very reason, Xi Jinping has prepared plans to allow the PLA to also undertake "armed forces operations" abroad. The Chinese government said it had signed a 59-article order in June 2022 to give birth to a set of procedural regulations to allow for "non-military" operations" including foreign operations of the armed forces.180

BRI activities and business investments are obvious development interests abroad, so the People's Liberation Army, aided by Chinese diplomacy, will have to develop cooperation and capabilities to defend these utilities. And, alongside the PLA, which operates as a ret- roguard, China already has, in foreign countries, several private security companies (PSCs) ready to intervene militarily. Beijing also acts through the use of unconventional, irregular means such as PSCs, which have already been sent to some points considered significantly strategic ranging from Central Asia to Africa. The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) has estimated that "20 to 40 Chinese PSCs already operate abroad in some 40 countries and more than 7,000 are managed at the national level. "181 PSCs are a tool well positioned by the Chinese Communist Party to project its power abroad. So, phase three of the Belt and Road has already begun, i.e., defense military of Beijing's foreign interests.

140 countries have signed a bilateral agreement with China to participate in BRI cooperation. Among them are 18 members of the European Union including Italy, Greece, Portugal and Luxembourg. These partners create a sizable group for China-focused diplomatic and economic cooperation. It is a plastic representation of Xi Jinping's words, "a community of shared destiny for humanity."

Having used the BRI to bring together and consolidate this community under Chinese leadership, Beijing is broadening the scope of its governance, through- through a policy of influence, in the cultural, political, legal, scientific, technological, and military spheres, using actors associated with the State Party, to pro- move China's interests around the world.182

Now that the deeper meaning of the BRI has come to light, the challenge for those who wish to maintain liberal multilateral governance in the world is to organize an adequate defense against Pechino's effort to establish a global alternative centered on the Sinocentric view.

How welcome in the world would such a community be?

 

176. Marco Carnovale, entry International Politics, "Treccani Enciclopedia Italiana," V Appendix (1994). "The actors are thus the states, members of what H. Bull has called the "anarchic society": modern nation-states (or plurinationals) do indeed form a society because they accept certain rules of coexistence, which result to some extent in an international order. But such a society is anarchic because it is formed by sovereign units both internally (in that they have supremacy over all other forms of authority on their own territory) and externally (in that they recognize no other authority above their own within international society). Within these parameters, and taking into consideration the period after World War II to the present, there is a substantial change in the meaning and role of the national sovereignty of states; these, from being the quintessential symbol of independence, have increasingly become the units of reference for measuring the degree of interdependence in the world. At the global level, what in World War II had been the wartime alliance against the Axis powers was transformed in 1945 into the United Nations Organization (UN), which had the task of taking up the work, on a global scale, where the League of Nations had failed, namely the attempt to establish an international order based on respect for law both in relations between states and, and this was a novelty of the UN Charter, within them." International law is that branch of law that regulates the life of the international community. It has customary and covenantal sources.

177. David Arase, "The Belt and Road Initiative enters a second phase," cit.

178. Nicola Iuvinale, "Belt and Road enters second phase. Ready for the third: the support

179. Ibid.

180. "Xi Jinping signs order to promulgate provision on non-military action by of the army," Xinhua, June 14, 2022.

181. Max Markusen, A Stealth Industry The Quiet Expansion of Chinese Private Security Companies, CSIS, January 2022: https://www.csis.org/analysis/stealth-industry-quietexpansion-chinese-private-security-companies; Gabriele Iuvinale, "Phase Three Belt and Road: Defending Chinese Foreign Interests with Military Force," "ExtremaRatioNews," January 17, 2022: https://www.extremarationews.com/post/fase-tre-belt-and-road-difenderegli-interessi-chinese foreignwith-military-force; Helena Legarda and Meia Nouwens, Guardians of the Belt and Road. The internationalization of China's private security companies, MERICS, August 16, 2018: https://merics.org/sites/default/files/2020-04/180815_ChinaMonitor_Guardians_final.pdf; Alessandro Arduino, China's Private Security Companies. The Evolution of a New Security Actor, NBR, September 3, 2019:

https://www.nbr.org/wpcontent/uploads/pdfs/publications/sr80_securing_the_belt_and_road_sep2019.pdf; Staff, The Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies, International Committee of the Red Cross - ICRC, June 11, 2020: https://shop.icrc.org/download/ebook?sku=0996/002-ebook; "Chinese paramilitary trained Cuban security force responsible for suppressing protesters," Nation World, August 3, 2021: https://nationworldnews.com/wp_automatic/enavabharatfootball/page/12893/

182. Paul Charon and Jean-Baptiste Jeangène Vilmer, Les opèrations d'influences chinoises - Un moment machiavélien, Institut de Recherche Stratégique de l'École Militaire - IRSEM, Ministère des Armées Francaise, Paris, September 2021:

7 visualizzazioni0 commenti

Comentários


bottom of page