In 2013, President Xi Jinping announced China’s ambitious One Belt One Road (OBOR) plan to connect Asia and Europe with a 21st Century Silk Road by land and sea (One Road) to create an expansive Silk Road Economic Belt (One Belt) involving 65 countries and 4.4 billion people. Instead of inviting foreign investment into China, she now seeks to influence global trade by investing outwards.
Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet state, became independent in 1991. It is separated from Xinjiang by the Tianshan Mountain. Like other Central Asian countries, 80% of her 5-6 million population is Muslim. 10-15 years ago, she was enamored with China’s successful transition from planned economy to market economy. She welcomed Chinese people and Chinese businesses. But such favor has been squandered away over time.
A few years ago, a Kyrgyz Christian entrepreneur started a cattle farm in his father’s home village, creating many jobs for the villagers. He also sponsors soccer teams for the village youth, gives out free coal to old people in the winter, and quickly became a respected benefactor of the community. His farm raised cattle for meat exports and milk for the domestic market. When there was a surplus of milk, he wanted to build a plant to produce powdered milk for the vast Chinese market. After China’s 2008 milk scandal, it would be easy to find Chinese investors. Moreover, the project would benefit the village. He went to China and returned with a business plan.
China's One Belt One Road (OBOR) vision promises to revive the Ancient Silk Road with a vast network of trade routes linking China with Central Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, serving as a conduit for diplomacy and economic expansion.
To what extent and how quickly OBOR will achieve its objectives is unknown. Regardless, this Titanic of the Chinese Dream has sailed. The July 2016 Economist devoted three pages to discuss its geopolitical and economic significance.
As we review how trade and missions reached the ancient world, we need to discern how God may work in our time as China’s One Belt One Road initiative impacts the countries and peoples in this vast region of the world that is the heart of the 10/40 Window. In the June 2016 issue of Great Commission Bi-monthly, Dr. Kim Kwong Chan outlined the OBOR missiological implications.