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The Belt and Road Initiative: A Public GoodChina Provides For The World

May 18, 2017, 11:04 AM

2500 years ago, Confucius depicted in the Book of Rites his vision of a Great Commonwealth, proclaiming that ‘when the Great Way prevails, all people under heaven are dedicated to the public well-being’.

Around five centuries later, people on the land of Eurasia started to explore and open up several routes of trade and cultural exchanges that linked the major civilizations of Asia, Europe and Africa, and called by later generations the Silk Road. Throughout history, the Silk Road nurtured and featured the spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit.

In the globalized world today, interdependence deepens, interests converge and connectivity expands, nations are developing into a community of shared interests, shared responsibilities and shared destiny. Yet imbalance in development remains prominent and at the root of many problems our world faces.

Since President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China put forward in 2013 the Initiative of Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, it has met with great enthusiasm and support from more than 100 countries and international organizations. The vision of the Belt and Road Initiative is becoming a reality and bearing rich fruit.

It is highlighted by the recently concluded The Belt and Road Initiative Forum for International Cooperation at Beijing, which witnessed the attendance and participation of more than 1500 delegates from over 130 countries, including 29 heads of state and government leaders and more than 70 international organizations.

Over 270 concrete results were reached at the Forum in five key areas of policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity. President Xi announced that China would scale up financing support for the Initiative, including expanding the Silk Road Fund by 100 billion yuan (about 14.5 billion US dollars) and encourage financial institutions to conduct overseas fund business in RMB with an estimated amount of about 300 billion yuan (about 43.5 billion US dollars). And another 380 billion yuan (55 billion US dollars) in loans from two policy banks----China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China will be provided to support Belt and Road cooperation on infrastructure, industrial capacity and financing and 60 billion yuan (8.6 billion US dollars) in aid will be provided by China to developing countries and international bodies participating in the Belt and Road Initiative to launch more projects to improve people’s well-being. China will also make an additional contribution of one billion US dollars to the Assistance Fund for South-South Cooperation.

President Xi called for building the Belt and Road into one for peace, prosperity, openness, innovation and connecting different civilizations. He stressed the pursuit of the Belt and Road Initiative was not meant to reinvent the wheel, rather, it aimed to complement the development strategies of countries involved by leveraging their comparative strengths. 

Deep-rooted in history, the Belt and Road Initiative revitalizes the time-honored Silk Road Spirit and demonstrates China’s resolve to further its all-round opening up, promote regional cooperation and deepen its integration with the world and make sure that economic globalization is open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial to all.

The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road run through Asia, Europe and Africa by land and sea, connecting the dynamic East Asia on one end, the developed Europe on the other and the vast area with huge development potential in between. The Initiative reflects the great potential and space for cooperation among the countries along the routes and their common aspiration for development.

China’s vision is to realize common development through win-win cooperation. The Initiative comes from the ancient Silk Road but is not limited to it. It is in fact open to all other countries. All countries, from either Asia, Europe, Africa or the Americas, can be international cooperation partners of the Initiative. It’s never meant to be China’s solo, but rather a big circle of friends, and an orchestral performance by all partners around the world.

Since inception, the Belt and Road Initiative has made significant progress in achieving its five major goals, i.e. policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bonds. Accordingly, early harvests are reaped in the eight priority areas for cooperation: infrastructure connectivity, industrial investment, resource development, economic and trade cooperation, financial cooperation, cultural exchanges, ecological protection and maritime cooperation.

In pursuing the Initiative, China adheres to three key principles: extensive consultation, joint action and shared benefits. China carries out extensive consultation with others on an equal footing, respects each and every independent choice of others, ensures transparency and openness, and aligns the Initiative with the development strategies of others, and creates synergy with the existing regional cooperation mechanisms. It is a pluralistic and open process of cooperation which can be highly flexible, and does not seek conformity.

Globalization means interconnection and interdependence. The Belt and Road Initiative reflects openness in China’s vision and action. China’s own historical experience tells strongly how different cultures and faiths could interact and thrive together without doing each other harm. China’s recent story of reform and opening up and growing into the largest trading partner of over 120 countries in just a couple of decades, shows forcefully how closely connected and intertwined China has been with the rest of the world and that its hard found path of peaceful development does work. China works in earnest in economic, cultural and all other fields to make sure that cooperation is truly win-win.

The Belt and Road Initiative is a public good China provides for the world. By communication and coordination among other global, regional and national frameworks and initiatives for promoting cooperation in connectivity and sustainable development, such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Addis Ababa Action Agenda, Agenda 2063 of the African Union, China-African cooperation presages an even more vibrant and broad prospect.

Lao Zi, an ancient Chinese Taoist philosopher who probably lived even before Confucius’ time, once said, ‘a sage does not store up, by helping others as best as he can, he is helped even more; by giving others as much as he can, he becomes richer and richer still’. I believe that with conviction, commitment and cooperation and by working together, we can make real positive difference for all of us.

By H.E. ZHANG Jiming, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Republic of The Gambia