Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
Ahead of the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) holding in Beijing this April, a member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, Mr. Yang Jiechi, has said the initiative is a welcome development for China and the rest of the world.
Yang who doubles as the Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs and who oversees the preparations for the Forum, also spoke about progress in pursuing Belt and Road cooperation and preparations for the Forum.
Close to six years since it was put forward by President Xi Jinping, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has become a widely international public good with a far-reaching and profound impact on the world. What role has the BRI played in deepening international cooperation, promoting closer ties between countries, and boosting global growth?
The BRI is an important initiative for international cooperation proposed by President Xi to enhance both China’s development and its cooperation with global partners. The BRI represents a major breakthrough in both theory and practice, and it carries far-reaching significance. Since its inception, the BRI has received strong endorsement and warm support of the international community. So far, a total of 124 countries and 29 international organisations have signed BRI cooperation documents with China. Most recently, during President Xi’s visit to Italy, the two countries signed an MoU on promoting BRI cooperation, giving a new impetus to this process. Meanwhile, the BRI vision has been included in documents of major international institutions including the United Nations, the G20, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Indeed, the BRI has proved a popular and worthy cause that goes along with the trend of our times and responds to the shared aspiration of countries for development through mutually beneficial cooperation. Looking back at this pursuit over the last few years, I would draw your attention to the positive role the BRI has played in the following three ways: First, the BRI has opened a new area for international cooperation and boosted confidence in it. The world today is experiencing profound changes unseen in a century. Protectionism and unilateralism are rising, so are uncertainties and destabilising factors. As stressed by President Xi, the BRI is a significant move China has taken to fully open itself under the new conditions, and it embodies China’s commitment to sharing development opportunities and outcomes with more countries in the world. This important statement charts the course for Belt and Road cooperation. The BRI is guided by the principle of consultation and cooperation for shared benefits. It represents an approach to international cooperation featuring mutual respect, justice, equity and cooperation for win-win outcomes. And it is a commitment to multilateralism and an open global economy. As such, the BRI will help move economic globalisation toward greater openness, inclusiveness, and balance and win-win outcomes.
Secondly, the BRI has created new impetus and opportunities for global growth. Since the outbreak of the international financial crisis in 2008, to create both new growth drivers and a new cycle of global growth has become a common task for the international community. The BRI aims to address the fundamental issue of promoting development by enhancing all-round connectivity. It has helped countries involved to remove development bottlenecks and implement the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This initiative has thus become an important way for boosting global growth. The latest studies by the World Bank and other international institutions suggest that the BRI cooperation will cut the costs of global trade by 1.1 to 2.2 percent and those of trade along the China-Central Asia-West Asia Economic Corridor by 10.2 percent. What is more? It will contribute at least 0.1 percent of global growth in 2019. Thirdly, the BRI provides a new platform and new opportunities for fostering closer ties between countries. By improving connectivity between countries, BRI cooperation has strengthened economic ties and people-to-people exchanges between them, thus binding them closer together with shared interests. This will naturally build extensive consensus, enhance cooperation, and ultimately promote development for all. As President Xi Jinping pointed out, the BRI aims to replace estrangement with exchanges between different civilisations, replace clashes with mutual learning and replace a sense of superiority with coexistence; and it aims to boost mutual understanding, mutual respect and mutual trust among different countries. So, the BRI is a sure path toward peace and cooperation for win-win outcomes.
What benefits has the BRI brought to participating countries?
Since the BRI was first proposed close to six years ago, cooperation under this initiative has seen major progress and proved more fruitful than planned. First, there is growing complementarities between the BRI and development plans and policies of various parties. At the global level, the BRI is well aligned with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, thus forming a synergy of policies to promote global development. At the regional level, the BRI connects regional development plans and cooperation initiatives such as the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity, Agenda 2063 of the African Union, the Eurasian Economic Union and the Europe-Asia Connectivity Strategy of the European Union, thus creating a synergy for improving connectivity and supporting economic integration among regions in the world. During President Xi’s recent visit to France, the two countries agreed to jointly promote Belt and Road cooperation in the form of cooperation in third markets, and a list was signed on the third batch of demonstration projects on third-market cooperation.
Secondly, the BRI has boosted global connectivity. Guided by the principle of consultation and cooperation for shared benefits and by enhancing connectivity in the five priority areas of policy, infrastructure, trade, finance and people-to-people ties, the BRI has given a strong boost to international cooperation on connectivity. Third, the international platform for Belt and Road cooperation has been steadily strengthened. The BRF is the highest-level platform for Belt and Road cooperation where all parties concerned meet to build consensus and adopt plans for future cooperation. We have set up a BRF Advisory Council consisting of leading international figures to provide advice on the growth of the Forum. In addition, China and other participating countries have in recent years set up platforms for multilateral cooperation on port, shipping, finance, taxation, energy, culture, think tank, the media and other areas and launched initiatives on a green Silk Road and a clean Silk Road.