The venue of Belt and Road Forum Roundtable at Yanqi Lake resort in Beijing. Courtesy: Xinhua

What is happening this weekend that can reshape the world while we are unaware because our media won’t tell us?

What is happening this weekend that can potentially reshape the world – or at least this part of Asia? Some media refer to it as Globalisation 2.0.

If I give you 30 seconds to guess, you may not be able to make it. Partly because our mainstream print and electronic media – even social media – is quiet about this. There may not have been many shows on prime-time national TV, or columns by well-read journalists. Because current-affairs media is busy in educating us on other more urgent issues of national interest (see Project Ignorance).

Some – still little though – attention may be diverted to this event because country’s prime minister is attending it. However, the coverage you will receive may be of PM’s attendance, but not the actual event. The event is what is significant in all of this.

OK, I won’t test your patience. Here it is. The venue is Beijing’s Yanqi Lake resort. The event is Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF). The dates are: 14-15 May 2017.

The Belt and Road Initiative is also called One Belt, One Road, or OBOR for short. 

So, what signifies this BRF?

First, 29 overseas heads of states or governments including PM Nawaz Sharif are attending it. The host is Chinese President Xi Jinping. Xi is no ordinary President and China is no ordinary country.

The Beijing BRF is the biggest show of strength by Xi’s China where everyone who matters in the world will show up. Of course, not from the US, and its European and Asian allies – India, Japan and South Korea. The US is sending a representative to attend.

India considers China as a regional and global rival, and since the BRF’s theme is cooperation, and not competition, it has decided to stay away.

A list of world leaders attending the BRF:

  1. Argentinean President Mauricio Macri
  2. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko
  3. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen
  4. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet
  5. Czech President Milos Zeman
  6. Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn
  7. Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama
  8. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras
  9. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban
  10. Indonesian President Joko Widodo
  11. Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni
  12. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev
  13. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta
  14. Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev
  15. Lao President Bounnhang Vorachit
  16. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak
  17. Mongolian Prime Minister Jargaltulga Erdenebat
  18. Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi
  19. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
  20. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte
  21. Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo
  22. Russian President Vladimir Putin
  23. Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic
  24. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy 
  25. Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe
  26. Swiss President Doris Leuthard
  27. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
  28. Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev
  29. Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang

More on China’s economic & military rise & Xi Jinping:

How China overtakes the US economy

With a parade, China announces itself as the next superpower: TIME

How China is viewed by Pakistan & the world

Xi Jinping: most powerful Chinese leader since Mao

The World Bank, meet your challenger: China-led AIIB

BRICS New Development Bank to increase lending to $2.5B next year

China-led SCO admits Pakistan as member in June

Africa: Nigeria largest economy, China largest single trading partner

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi enters Pakistan


China is already world’s largest economy by GDP purchasing power parity (PPP). Since October 2014, when China first crossed the US in GDP PPP, it has left US behind by nearly three trillion dollars. That’s a lot. Compare this $3 trillion difference with Pakistan’s annual GDP which is only $270 billion, which is only a fraction of the difference.

President Xi is already emerging as the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao. He’s Number 4 in this year’s Forbes World Power List.

In 2013, Xi came up with OBOR Initiative comprising of a modern Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road to boost trade and extend its global influence.

The ancient Silk Road connected China and Europe from around 100 B.C. The 6,000­km road linked ancient Chinese, Indian, Babylonian, Arabic, Greek and Roman civilisations.

The OBOR will connect 62 countries in Asia, Africa and Europe. China has already invested more than $50 billion in OBOR countries. 

Credit Suisse Group AG estimates OBOR could funnel investments worth $502 billion into 62 countries over five years.

It will have six economic corridors, the flagship $52 billion CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) being one of the six.

The OBOR will be 12 times bigger in absolute dollar terms than the Marshall Plan, says Bloomberg.


Have you seen CPEC & OBOR stories on this blog?

CPEC fact sheet: 2013-2017

16 CPEC projects in Balochistan, 8 in KPK: Chinese Embassy

Chinese Embassy shares progress on CPEC projects

3 false reports about CPEC in one day far too many?

40 CPEC projects in 4 photos & 60 seconds

CPEC gets 4-layer security as Gwadar to be weapon-free

China’s world-reshaping One Belt, One Road (OBOR)

Long Term Orientation in Pakistan: from Zero to 50 in 2 years

Subscribe to our YouTube channel: Wali Zahid

A map of OBOR and CPEC. Courtesy: The Economist

China’s trade with OBOR countries has reached 20 trillion yuan ($2.9 trillion) during 2014-2016.

China has jointly set up 56 overseas economic cooperation zones in 20 OBOR countries, covering processing and manufacturing, resource utilisation, agriculture, commercial logistics and R&D.

China has so far signed 46 cooperation agreements with 39 countries and regions under OBOR.

A map unveiled by state agency Xinhua shows the Chinese plans for the Silk Road run through Central China to the northern Xinjiang from where it travels through Central Asia entering Kazakhstan and onto Iraq, Iran, Syria and then Istanbul in Turkey from where it runs across Europe cutting across Germany, Netherlands and Italy.

The maritime Silk Road begins in China’s Fujian and ends at Venice, Italy.

The OBOR network will include building railways, highways, oil and gas pipelines, power grids, Internet networks, maritime and other infrastructure links.

In 2014, China announced a $40 billion Silk Road Fund to strengthen connectivity in the Asia­-Pacific region.

OBOR succeeds an earlier Chinese global project – the China-­led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) – which is termed as a challenger to the World Bank.

BRF will be followed by a show of strength at SCO summit of heads of states at Astana, Kazakhstan, on 7-8 June where Pakistan and India will be admitted as Full Members.

Xi hopes China’s annual trade with the countries involved in OBOR will surpass $2.5 trillion in a decade.

China to host Belt and Road Forum Roundtable at Yanqi Lake resort in Beijing. Courtesy: Xinhua

More than 1,500 delegates, including officials, academics, entrepreneurs, representatives of financial institutions and media organisations from 130 nations, as well as representatives from more than 70 international organisations, will attend.

Wali Zahid, futurist and President of Institute of Media & Communications (IMC) and CEO SkillCity, among others, is representing Pakistan at Think Tank Exchanges on the theme of: Jointly Build a Smart Silk Road in Beijing on 14 May.

Tailpiece: Is it a mere coincidence that investment analysis firm MSCI is upgrading Pakistan’s market status from Frontier to Emerging, a reclassification that could increase foreign investment inflows, on 15 May – the same day as BRF is happening in Beijing?


Understanding Pakistan Series

What to expect in Pakistan in 2017

Back to the future: Pakistan in 2050

Wali on Pakistan of future

Long Term Orientation in Pakistan: from Zero to 50 in 2 years

Pakistani culture through 6-D Model

Native languages in Pakistan

How future oriented are we?

How we messed up Pakistan: A series by Wali

Pakistan’s two value crimes no one talks about

Is Whatsapp your source of info? Welcome to Project Ignorance

Wali Zahid is an award-winning journalist, futurist, disruptor, blogger, social media strategist, reformer, LinkedIn writer and author of iBook, Great Training in 10 Steps.

He runs a #Pakistan2050 hashtag on Twitter and appears on national TV on issues of significance to Pakistan.

On walizahid.com, he’s writing a series called How We Messed Up Pakistan.

As CEO of SkillCity, he coaches several Fortune-500 CEOs on leadership.

He’s founder of a global movement for humanizing medical education and practice. He’s President of Institute of Media & Communications which he founded in 1993.

He can be reached on Twitter @walizahid

  • Owais

    Interesting piece of news. More interesting that such news is not being reported by the main media. Also not being promoted much by the Pml-n social media wings. I have yet to check if there is international coverage but with China and Pakistan involved i doubt there will be much.

  • Zeeshan Burhan

    Sound more like a alliance forum isn’t it
    Cuz economies such as 🇺🇸 🇩🇪 🇨🇦 🇬🇧 🇦🇺 all missing
    But one perspective is that it will surely be in favour of China Pakistan Russia and Turkey (sharing benifits with countries like italy ,hungry and Indonesia for trade )

  • Frah Mukhtar

    🙂 “Because current-affairs media is busy in educating us on other more urgent issues of national interest ” 🙂 the subtle sarcasm!
    Presence of Ethiopian PM might be a promise that Africa is the new land. Invest!

  • Muhammad Siddique

    This event should be discussed on national.media on talk shows and editorials on major.newspapers.

  • Rana Muhammad Iqbal

    Great initiative. Hope the sense of cooperation and benefit-sharing prevails and brings positive shift in economic and political order.

  • Dr. Hameedullah Kazi

    Assalamu Alaikum Wali Zahid Saheb! Thanks for sharing your beautifully written and insightful piece, as always 😀. Indeed, Xi is no ordinary President and contemporary China is no ordinary country. Its voracious appetite and potential for growth speaks volumes for its plans.

  • Saleem Akhter

    Wonderful and Interesting news. Pak media should report this news. A big news for Pakistan Business Industry and we should promote this our-self.