Abdul Halim Abdul Karim
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This paper is a preliminary discussion on the ascendancy of China, focusing on managing and avoiding conflicts with Muslim countries. In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced an ambitious foreign policy and economic initiative; calling for the construction of a new Silk Road Economic Belt over land and sea, known as One Belt, One Road (OBOR). This program of infrastructure building will connect virtually every country in Asia via rail, road and sea. While this initiative portents great promise for promoting trade and international economic cooperation, the risks involved are well-nigh imponderable due to its complexity, not least in terms of the number of nations involved, of diverse interests and cultural backgrounds. OBOR would also involve at least 29 Muslim nations of the Middle East, Central Asia, the littoral states of South Asia, as well as, Southeast Asia. The prospect for ‘civilisational’ conflict will be a matter of when, not if. This paper discusses how the ascendancy of China, in light of the OBOR Project, will impact others, and how potential conflict can be managed or avoided, by looking at potential flashpoints from a range of angles: the socio-economic, cultural, religious, and as well as, Chinese Thought.