What the Belt and Road Initiative means
AS early as two thousand years ago, China opened up a network of trade routes both on land and at sea. The land route started from Chinese inland cities and reached the Mediterranean countries through Central Asia. The maritime route started from China’s South-East coastal areas and reached East Africa and Europe through Indo-China Peninsula, South China Sea Islands, the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. At that time, Silk was the landmark export commodity of China, therefore, the two routes were named “Silk Road”.
In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping raised the major initiative of jointly building “the Silk Road Economic Belt” and the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road,” which was to revitalize the two time-honored land and marine for international trade. Later, China has made the two initiatives into one, which was called for short “The Belt and Road”.
Main points of the Belt and Road Initiative
Instead of being empty talks, the Belt and Road Initiative is a full set of visible and tangible measures. China aims at driving the relevant regions to realize common development and prosperity, speed up regional integration, narrow the development gap and increase complementarity of each country’s advantage, through five major measures, namely: policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bonds. Enhancing policy coordination is an important guarantee for implementing the Belt and Road Initiative. We hope all participant countries would enhance political mutual trust, build a multilevel inter-governmental policy communication mechanism and dock their economic development strategies with each other. They are also expected to jointly work out plans and measures for regional cooperation, negotiate to solve cooperation-related issues, and provide policy support for the implementation of practical cooperation and large-scale projects. Facilities connectivity is a priority area for implementing the Initiative.
On the basis of respecting each other’s sovereignty and security concerns, countries along the Belt and Road should improve the connectivity of their infrastructure construction plans and technical standard systems, jointly push forward the construction of international trunk passageways, including railways, roads, airways, oil and gas pipelines, cross-border powertransmission routes and crossboarder communications trunk line networks.
Investment and trade cooperation is a major task in building the Belt and Road. We should strive to improve investment and trade facilitation, and remove investment and trade barriers for the creation of a sound business environment. We will discuss with countries and regions along the Belt and Road on opening free trade areas and industrial parks, so as to unleash the potential for expanded cooperation. In accordance with the principles of mutual complementarity and win-win outcome, we should deepen cooperation in agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry and fisheries. We should increase cooperation in the exploration and development of coal, oil, gas, metal minerals and other conventional energy sources.
Financial integration is an important underpinning for implementing the Belt and Road Initiative. China hopes to make joint efforts to establish the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and BRICS Development Bank, set up and put into operation the Silk Road Fund as early as possible. We should build a regional financial risk early-warning system, and create an exchange and cooperation mechanism of addressing cross-border risks and crisis. We should give full play to the role of the Silk Road Fund and that of sovereign wealth funds of countries along the Belt and Road, and encourage commercial equity investment funds and private funds to participate in the construction of key projects of the Initiative.
People-to-people bonds provide the public support for implementing the Initiative. We should carry forward the spirit of friendly cooperation of the Silk Road by promoting extensive cultural and academic exchanges, personnel exchanges and cooperation, media cooperation, youth and women exchanges and volunteer services, so as to win public support for deepening bilateral and multilateral cooperation.
Some early harvests of the Initiative
Started from scratch in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative has been growing healthily and gained much unexpected progress and outcome. It has won the support of more than 100 countries and international organizations, and has become an extensive international consensus.
It has been written into resolutions of many international bodies including the UN General Assembly and UN Security Council. Currently, we are building the economic corridor in Euro-Asia. We have also witnessed greater connectivity, growing trade and investments and steady progress in major cooperation programs. Since January 1st this year, China-Europe Express Rail was launched and trains were seen crossing 8 countries within 18 days, making it a latest wonder along the Belt and Road. Upon hearing the news, President Magufuli said to me that this direct rail link between China and UK is a remarkable and imaginable achievement in the world.
It is one of the greatest feat in the history of transportation. Actually, building intercontinental railway networks is a part of the Belt and Road Initiative. It will greatly promotes trade with China, which in turn will help the global economy to grow.
Mr Lu Jianing, Chairman of the Far East Branch of Russian Academy of Science, said that the Belt and Road Initiative is different from other development programs of the west. It offers a better option for the world than the old globalization under the control of U.S.
It injects positive energy to global economy
Due to the deep impact of the financial crisis, the sluggishness of global economic recovery, plus downturn of investment and trade, the growth of major economies are slowing down. Meanwhile, protectionism, isolationism and unilateralism are on the rise. Tide is rising against globalization.
These trends pose a great threat to global economy. It is at such a difficult moment for the world when western powers are struggling with their own economy, China launched the Belt and Road Initiative which is like a warm current that brought new hope for global recovery.
The Belt and Road Initiative conforms to the trend featuring a multi-polar world, a globalized economy, diversified culture and a informative society. Advocating the spirit of open up and cooperation, the Initiative is committed to maintain a liberalization of international trade and an open world economy. It will enhance the confidence of all countries on cooperation, dispel the dark cloud of economic stagnation and inject new energy to global economic growth.
(2) The Belt and Road Initiative sets up a new model for global economic cooperation.
It is a brand-new international cooperation model for many reasons. It champions the ideal of common development. It aims at seeking convergence of state interest, destiny and responsibility. It focuses on making a bigger pie for all and pursues win-win outcome. It advocates cooperation based on equality. It upholds the principle of achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration. All interests are well catered for. There is no hegemonic agenda or political conditions attached, granting full freedom of development to all participants. It is by no means a China- only project. It is a public product offered by China to the world. It’s applicable everywhere and will serve anywhere as a strong drive of economic growth. It reflects a long-term vision of China for global economy, and shows China’s strong sense of responsibility and accountability as a major country in the world. (Continues tomorrow)
- *Dr. Lu Youqing is the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the United Republic of Tanzania
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