21st Century Maritime Silk Road – MSR History, Route, and Challenges

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiative has the potential to significantly expand China’s maritime strategic space beyond its enclosed adjacent waters. Due to this initiative, China can build resilience in the face of economic or diplomatic isolation.

At the same time, by investing in fragile states, China is taking significant risks that may impact its economy. Along with the Belt, the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road aims to build a production and trade network connecting the maritime domain to the Eurasian hinterland and Western China. This would be a historic first, helping to open up landlocked Central Asia and improve connectivity in South Asia.

21st Century Maritime Silk Road – Overview

The concept of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road was introduced during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speech to the Indonesian Parliament and Premier Li Keqiang’s speech at the 16th ASEAN-China summit in Brunei.

  • The 21st-century Silk Road will begin in Fujian province and travel through Guangxi, Guangdong, and Hainan before reaching the Malacca Strait.
  • It travels from Kuala Lumpur to Kolkata and Colombo before crossing the remaining Indian Ocean to Nairobi.
  • It then travels north near the Horn of Africa, through the Red Sea, and into the Mediterranean, stopping in Athens before joining the land-based Silk Road in Venice.

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Maritime Silk Road History

Chinese leader Xi Jinping first suggested the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiative during the Indonesian Parliament in October 2013.

  • Xi Jinping, the Chinese head, declared strategies to construct a USD $40B development budget in November 2014.
  • It is believed to have helped finance China’s objectives to invent the Maritime Silk Road and the New Silk Road.
  • China has hastened its purpose to attract Africa to the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road by quickly building a contemporary gauge rail linkage between Mombasa and Nairobi.
  • China’s Development and Reform Commission publicly cast a manuscript titled ‘Vision and Actions’.
  • It aimed to jointly build the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and Silk Road Economic Belt in March 2015.
  • It discussed the directions and framework that constitute the initiative’s basis.

List of Maritime Silk Road Ports

The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road paths overflowed if the initiative arrived at fulfillment. No specific information was disclosed concerning the Maritime Silk Road Ports. China has contracted right over the listed ports between 2015 and 2022:

  • Port Darwin, Australia: 99 years
  • Newcastle Port, Australia: 98 years
  • Hambantota, Sri Lanka: 99 years
  • Feydhoo Finolhu, Maldives: 50 years
  • Muara, Brunei: 60 years
  • Kuantan, Malaysia: 60 years
  • Kyaukpyu, Myanmar: 50 years
  • Obock, Djibouti: 10 years
  • Malacca Gateway: 99 Years
  • Gwadar, Pakistan: 40 years

The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Tourism Opportunities and Impacts

  • While the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road does not preclude the EU from pursuing democratic and human rights ideals, a failure to better account for regional and individual state demands and their need for growth will marginalize the EU as China continues to expand its engagement along the Road.
  • The EU would benefit from a proactive strategic policy prescription for the Indo-Pacific formulation for long-term regional stability, particularly given the 21st Maritime Silk Road’s security implications.
  • Rather than taking sides, the EU should advocate for a peaceful transition to new regional security arrangements concerning the 21st Maritime Silk Road that include its members while strategically exploiting the interplay and merger of the importer of record’s (IOR) maritime and terrestrial security spaces for economic, diplomatic, and security gain.
  • Given that combating piracy, counterterrorism, and ensuring safe passage for a significant amount of trade between the EU and the Indian Ocean are high priorities for all parties involved, the EU may decide to establish and enforce a code of conduct relating to the 21st Maritime Silk Road.
  • They can select a track 2 platform comparable to the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific or through strategic groupings of external regional actors in bilateral, trilateral, or quadrilateral formats.

In collaboration with the Silk Road Economic Belt and Sea Initiative, the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road aims to bridge a massive global terrestrial-maritime connectivity gap, potentially resulting in positive development and cooperation.

The Road increases competition for development assistance and connectivity in the Indian Ocean Region, increasing militarization.

21st Century Maritime Silk Road – Challenges

There is a lengthy checklist of unresolved territorial controversies in the South China Sea and South-East Nations such as Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, etc.

  • The routes offered will likely lead to even more uncertainties between the nations.
  • Analysts are optimistic that the Road initiative can settle conflicts by proposing a chance for joint gain.
  • It is also assumed that the future of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road will significantly depend on the economic conditions of the participating nations.
  • China will have to foot the statement for the economic development of nations in poor economic conditions.
  • China might leverage political power and demand accommodations, which can sometimes be unfair in place of the capital fund. It proved an obstacle to those nations joining the MSR initiative.
  • The other challenge is gaining India’s support to bring the initiative to a productive conclusion.
  • Maintaining its safety interests in mind, the government of India can prefer to form the regions within its sphere of power instead of letting other nations do it.

21st Century Maritime Silk Road PDF

To know more details about the 21st Century maritime silk road map and download the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road PDF, click on the link below.

Download 21st Century Maritime Silk Road PDF

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