Xi Jinping, president of the People’s Republic of China, wants to restore his country’s greatness and shape its future by reviving ancient trade routes between China and the West. As one of the world’s most powerful and visionary leaders, President Xi plans to loan trillions of dollars for 900 development projects in more than 60 countries to facilitate global trade with China. The New Silk Road Initiative will fund the construction of ports, pipelines, power stations, railways, and highways to transport goods across Asia, moving them between Africa, the Middle East, Europe and China. This massive undertaking has been called “the number one project under heaven” (“Why India distrusts China’s One Belt One Road initiative.” lowlyinstitute.org, September 2, 2016).
However, the best-laid plans of men do not always work out as intended. President Xi’s ambitious plan could help fulfill ancient end-time prophecies.
According to Chinese sources, the primary goal of this extensive project is to usher in “a golden age of commerce” by promoting trade, boosting the world economy and bringing modern benefits to less developed nations. President Xi hopes the plan “will unleash new economic forces for global growth… so mankind will move closer to a community of common destiny” (“China’s new Silk Road promises trade and riches, with President Xi at helm.” Reuters, May 15, 2017). Pakistan’s president thinks China’s efforts to foster friendship and build roads and bridges to promote trade across Asia will bring “a truly new era of synergetic intercontinental cooperation,” while Chile’s president predicts the New Silk Road Initiative will “pave the way for a more inclusive, equal, just, prosperous and peaceful society with development for all” (“China’s $900 billion New Silk Road. What you need to know.” World Development Forum, weforum.org, June 26, 2017).
However, analysts in India, Japan, Europe, Russia and America have major concerns. With a population of roughly 1.4 billion, China has one of the largest economies on the planet. Vast resources are required to keep that economy running, and Central Asian countries along the Silk Road have immense deposits of oil, gas and minerals that China needs. By loaning money to these nations to build transport facilities, the Chinese gain access and potential control of these resources. The loans (offered without requirements of transparency, democracy and human rights) often involve agreements to use Chinese technology, Chinese steel, Chinese engineers, and Chinese labor. This creates a market for the excess capacity of China’s factories and prevents layoffs in these state-owned businesses. The indebted countries then become more amenable to China’s interests and demands (“China’s Silk Road project: A trap or an opportunity?” Al Jazeera, May 17, 2017).
Numerous observers also see a bold geopolitical strategy behind the New Silk Road project. President Xi is firmly committed to realizing the “Chinese Dream”—improving the lives of his people and restoring China to its rightful place at the center of the world stage. He is focused not only on expanding the Chinese economy by acquiring resources and markets for China’s exports, but also on modernizing the world’s largest military force with the capability of “asserting China’s power abroad against all competitors.” President Xi is also focused on “reviving nationalism and pride in the restoration of a Great China” (“Behold the New Emperor of China.” The Wall Street Journal, October 17, 2017). All of this makes other nations in the region nervous, as they see China expanding its global influence and deepening the reach of its currency with loans and trade (bloomberg.com, May 15, 2017). The ports and railroads of the New Silk Road could also be used to transport China’s military forces across Asia in the future (hindustantimes.com, May 25, 2017).
For centuries, China considered itself the Middle Kingdom—the center of the world, owed deference from other nations for its cultural superiority. From a Chinese perspective, this elevated status was lost in the 1800s as a result of aggression by predatory foreign powers (Great Britain, Russia, Japan, and America). For a people with a history of national greatness, “China’s fall from greatness—the last 150 years of China’s great humiliation—is an aberration, a desecration of China’s special quality, and a personal insult to every individual Chinese. It must be erased and its perpetrators deserve due punishment” (Brzezinski, Zbigniew. The Grand Chessboard. 1997, pp. 15, 158). Understanding China’s history sheds light on why modern China is focused on regaining what it sees as its rightful prominence in the world, why it is determined not to be hemmed in or held down by other powers, and why it is creating fortified artificial islands in the South China Sea and building railways and highways across Central Asia. In the 1800s, Russia and Great Britain jostled for control of Central Asia—the Great Game—on the theory that whoever controlled the heartland of Asia would control the world (Brzezinski, pp. 38–39). Today, we are seeing a new Great Game take place in the same part of the world, between a new set of competitors, one that will impact the global landscape in the years just ahead.
Many in our modern secular age do not realize that Bible prophecies have long foretold the scenario we see developing today. Scripture reveals that God guides the course of history—that He “makes nations great, and destroys them” (Job 12:23–24) and that “He removes kings and raises up kings” (Daniel 2:21). China has a long history of dominance in Asia, but that began to change about 1500ad, when European nations began to exert their power around the globe. Eventually, England and America became the dominant powers on the world stage—fulfilling a series of very specific Bible prophecies (see The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy). However, those same prophecies warn that the Israelite nations, blessed by God, will lose their prominent positions if they turn away from God (Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28)—exactly what is happening today.
The Bible describes a climactic end-time conflict among major powers in Europe, the Middle East and Asia—one in which America is conspicuously absent. The prophet Daniel wrote that “At the time of the end” a king of the South (an Arab-Muslim force) will challenge a king of the North (a European power with links to the ancient Roman Empire). This European “beast power” will prevail and move into the Middle East, but will be troubled by and react to news coming “from the east and the north”—the direction of Russia and China (Daniel 11:40–44). While Russia and China have competing interests in Central Asia, Western sanctions could drive these two nations together (Deutsche Welle, May 12, 2017). In response to this European military action, a huge army will launch an attack from east of the Euphrates River (over the New Silk Road network?) that will devastate one third of mankind (Revelation 9:13–18). Later, these “kings from the East” will gather in the Middle East—in the valley of Megiddo (Armageddon)—for a final climactic battle just before the return of Jesus Christ (Revelation 16:12–16). While this is not the future envisioned by President Xi for China and the world, this is what the God of heaven is going to bring to pass on earth (see Isaiah 46:8–11). Peace, prosperity, and justice will not arrive with the New Silk Road Initiative, but with the Kingdom of God, established by the returning Jesus Christ.