It’s called One Belt, One Road.
The Chinese have a saying that goes something like this: if
you want to be rich, first build a road. Conceptually, they are
saying that wealth comes from expanding your trading area beyond
your local community.
For Saskatchewan, this is self-evident. With just over 1 million
residents, we have a relatively small market but we’re highly produc-tive,
making far more than we could consume here at home. So we
export. More than any other province, actually. Making that possi-ble
is infrastructure such as road and rail, allowing access to mar-kets
both domestic and international.
The Chinese, even though they are one of the world’s most popu-lace
nations and one of, if not the biggest, economies in the world,
understand this concept just as well as we do. You can never have
too many customers and being able to reach as widely as possible
is just good business. But it’s also good public policy in their minds.
To fully appreciate this, take a look at China’s One Belt, One Road
initiative. If you’re in the infrastructure game, you’d better have at
least a rudimentary understanding of this concept. As a super pow-er,
it is China’s way of projecting its influence around the world. The
Americans have perfected the export of culture – movies, CNN and
so on. This is China’s version of extending its reach but it has chosen
to use the foundation of trade road and rail as its vehicle.
This idea is not exactly new. Although it was announced in May
of this year at a gathering of global leaders, it is based on a rebirth
BY PAUL MARTIN, MARTIN-CHARLTON COMMUNICATIONS
THE BOTTOM LINE
the historic Silk Road, which connected China and Europe centuries
ago. Initially, more than $100 billion was earmarked for infrastruc-ture
that has included extended rail links into Europe but, depend-ing
on which sources you look at, the total commitment could reach
as much as $4 trillion or even $8 trillion.
If you’re in China these days, you can even find people who talk
about extending a rail link – under the Bering Sea – from Asia to
North America similar to the Chunnel connection between the UK
Because of their commercial success in global markets, China has
spent recent years accumulating foreign reserves. One of the ques-tions
that always came up was: what will they do with that money?
Infrastructure appears to be high on the list of priorities.
For Saskatchewan, a land-locked province relying heavily
on exports, and a place that calls China its second-largest cus-tomer,
this is a development worth noting. We have, for exam-ple,
one of the few Foreign Trade Zones in Canada in the Global
Transportation Hub. The Chinese are aware of it, having similar
zones of their own in cities such as Guangzhou and Shanghai, an
urban centre with 24 million residents, or two-thirds of Canada’s
Infrastructure is key to trade and, with free trade agreements
coming under scrutiny in the U.S., the Chinese are headed in the
other direction to prove if the proverb that roads lead to wealth has
You can never have too
many customers and
being able to reach as
widely as possible is
just good business.
ANTON WATMAN / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM 64 Think BIG | Quarter 4 2017 | saskheavy.ca