New BRI local marketing efforts are being created throughout Asia, with human interaction at their foundation.
In a shift in marketing and explaining strategy that may be used elsewhere, China has developed a new “Silk Roadster” platform in Nepal as part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
To celebrate the tenth anniversary of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s proposal of the BRI, Chinese authorities have declared that the Nepal platform is a brand new idea. Nepal joined the BRI in 2017, but six years later, despite selecting nine projects to be carried out within the framework, none have commenced. Covid, the issues of tough terrain, cost disputes, and political influences from India have all contributed to delays in getting projects off the ground in Nepal.
According to the White Paper released during the Kathmandu launch, the Silk Roadster idea is a new platform for practical collaboration and people-to-people contacts between China and Southeast and South Asian nations. It reads, “The Silk Roadster aims to carry out technical skills training, services for the people, overseas study projects, short-term exchanges, cooperation between enterprises, and cultural exhibitions and exchange events with Southeast and South Asian countries by coordinating resources from local governments, universities, enterprises, and institutions in China.”
The concept paper outlines five initiatives that will be carried out under the platform by a wide range of Nepali political parties and social organizations: Silk Road Embarkment, Silk Road Empowerment, Silk Road Enjoyment, Silk Road Enlightenment, and Silk Road Enhancement.
Two top Beijing CPC officials were in attendance.
One Nepali lawmaker who attended the event speculated, “This could be a departure from the concept of the BRI, which has now been tweaked to encompas[s] small projects including those on imparting training, building skills, scholarships, and other short-term exchanges on various sectors.” Since this novel idea [Silk Roadster] is still in its infancy, its potential effects and the responses it will elicit from Nepali political parties and the government are now unknown. The new Chinese programs may or may not conflict with the policies of the Nepali government.
Leaders of political parties in Southeast and South Asian nations have reportedly shown interest in engaging in more concrete cooperation initiatives with China via inter-party interactions, as described in the Silk Roadster concept paper.
According to Dev Gurung, General Secretary of Nepal’s CPN (Maoist Centre), “Silk Roadster” targets community-level initiatives in the fields of education, culture, and economic development.
The Silk Road Embarkment is one of the five programs with a focus on low-cost but high-impact initiatives to better people’s lives.
This is reflected in the Paper, which states, “We are ready to work with political parties of all countries and Friends of Silk Road Clubs to provide free physical check-ups, medical care, optometry, electrical appliance repair, and other services for the convenience of the people, so that the inter-party exchanges will bring tangible benefits to the people.”
Events for China’s flagship Silk Road Embarkment and Silk Road Empowerment programs were carried out in Nepal by a team headed by Du Xiaolin and Du Wenlong from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Liaison Office in the country.
Through the Cloud Platform for Generation Z Vocational Education Cooperation, schools in China will teach technical skills to students in Southeast and South Asian countries as part of the Silk Road Empowerment initiative.
Both the Silk Road Enjoyment and the Silk Road Enlightenment seek to encourage cultural interactions and the sharing of knowledge and experiences between different cultures and civilizations.
To encourage young people to learn more about China and strengthen our relationship, the notion reads, “We are willing to provide short-term training opportunities in China for foreign political parties and technical personnel.”
The goal of the Silk Road Enhancement initiative is the same: to facilitate corporate partnerships and increase commercial interaction along the Silk Road.
Event in Kathmandu was called “Silk Roadster—Join the Ride for a Better Future!” and was organized by the Chinese delegation. Representatives from eight Nepali political parties and some NGOs, mostly working with various entities of the Chinese government, attended the event, along with numerous Chinese vocational institutions and enterprises such as Beijing Polytechnic, Beijing Business School, Tongren Polytechnic College, and Beijing Daming Optical Co. Ltd.
Chinese representatives gave out 330 solar lights, 20,000 insect sticky traps, food and oil packs, 1,500 pairs of presbyopia glasses, and 500 sets of magnifying glasses to Nepali citizens in attendance.
As part of their “Solar Village Project—Lighting up the Darkness,” a Chinese working group and officials from Chinese vocational institutes traveled to Budhanilkantha during the launch ceremony for the Silk Road Embarkment project and installed solar lights for local people.
The Friends of the Silk Road Nepal report that on July 12, the Chinese side traveled to Kavresthali, where they set up sticky traps for insects in the agricultural fields and provided local farmers with advice on how to best use planting and pesticide techniques.
Chinese authorities claim that memoranda of understanding were signed between Chinese and Nepalese vocational institutes during the occasion. “The Chinese side wishes to share its high-quality technical advancements, innovation, and new technologies in areas like agriculture, renewable energy, and hospitals,” said Kalyan Raj Sharma, chairman of the Friends of Silk Road Nepal, one of the organizers of the Bhaktapur event.
The Chinese group has gone for Malaysia, where they will start a parallel program there.