10 Years on, fruitful Belt and Road cooperation moving to new stage
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has gained worldwide traction and garnered overwhelming support from the international community over the past decade. Having galvanised nearly $1 trillion of investment, the BRI has built numerous livelihood projects, developed massive infrastructure facilities and achieved milestones of cooperation.
The BRI has breathed new life into various industries on the continent, steering African countries along a sustained path of growth, economic transformation and resilience. The BRI is increasingly central to national and concerted actions dedicated to tackling decades-long challenges and structural deficiencies, widely known as the reasons for low GDP growth and the slow pace of development.
Tackles structural deficiencies
The initiative increasingly tackles structural deficiencies, especially in the Global South across various sectors such as energy, transport, agriculture, information and communications technology, addressing decades-long structural constraints that impeded growth, contributing in enhancing their capacities for growth and providing new opportunities to achieve national development goals.
A World Bank report in 2019 shows that if fully implemented, the BRI transport projects could foster trade between 1.7 and 6.2 per cent for the world, increasing global real income by 0.7 to 2.9 percent lifting 7.6 million people from extreme poverty (people earning less than $1.9 a day) and 32 million people from moderate poverty (people earning less than $3.2 a day).
According to a 2019 study from the London-based Centre for Economics and Business Research, the BRI is likely to boost world GDP by $7.1 trillion per year by 2040.
UN 2030 Agenda
A progress report on the BRI in support of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for sustainable development launched during the 77th Session of the General Assembly in the United Nations headquarters in 2022, shows that the China-led initiative is a highly valuable vehicle for accelerating implementation of the 2030 Agenda proving effective in bridging various gaps in implementation efforts of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, including trade, policy coordination, financing, and infrastructure connectivity among others.
President Xi Jinping
After ten fruitful years of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Chinese President Xi Jinping last Wednesday announced new moves to usher the initiative into another "golden decade" with relentless efforts to achieve modernisation for all countries and build an open and inclusive world.
From further improving connectivity to supporting an open world economy, Xi unveiled eight major steps to bring Belt and Road cooperation to a new stage of higher-quality and higher-level development in a keynote speech at the opening of a high-profile forum.
Xi vowed to speed up high-quality development of China-Europe Railway Express and, together with other parties, build a new logistics corridor across the Eurasian continent linked by direct railway and road transportation.
China will enter into free trade agreements and investment protection treaties with more countries and remove all restrictions on foreign investment access in the manufacturing sector, Xi said.
Both signature projects and "small yet smart" livelihood programmes will be promoted with more financing support. Two Chinese policy banks will each set up a 350 billion yuan (48.75 billion US dollars) financing window, and an additional 80 billion yuan will be injected into the Silk Road Fund, according to Xi.
The President also pledged more commitment into green development, scientific and technological innovation, people-to-people exchanges, integrity-based Belt and Road cooperation, and the institutional building for international Belt and Road cooperation. The third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held last Tuesday and Wednesday was the most significant celebration for the 10th anniversary of the BRI.
Xi consecutively proposed building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road in 2013. The pairing later came to be known as the BRI. Over the past 10 years, the BRI has evolved from ideas into actions and from a vision into reality.
Speeding trains and trucks have become trade symbols in the new era, just like camel caravans in the past. Hydro stations and wind plants have helped in removing the development bottleneck for developing countries. Brand new airports, harbors, and industrial parks have brought fresh momentum to regional growth.
By promoting the Belt and Road cooperation, China is pursuing modernisation not for itself but for all developing countries through joint efforts.
Envisaging global modernization
"Global modernisation should be pursued to enhance peaceful development and mutually beneficial cooperation and bring prosperity to all," Xi said.
So far, more than 150 countries and over 30 international organizations have signed Belt and Road cooperation agreements, with the initiative extending from the Eurasian continent to Africa and Latin America.
Jiri Paroubek, former Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, said the Belt and Road will help many countries of the developing world to increase their development, and also the living standards of the people.
The BRI transcends differences between civilizations, cultures, social systems, and stages of development, and has opened up a new path for exchanges among countries, and established a new framework for international cooperation, Xi said.
Looking back at the past decade, Xi said the achievements demonstrate that the Belt and Road cooperation is on the right side of history. "It represents the advancing of our times, and it is the right path forward."
Elucidating Silk Road Spirit
"China can only do well when the world is doing well. When China does well, the world will get even better," Xi said, noting that China, opening its door even wider to the world, has become a main trading partner of more than 140 countries and regions and a primary source of investment for more countries.
Xi said that win-win cooperation is the sure way to success in launching major initiatives that benefit all, and that the Silk Road spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit is the most important source of strength for Belt and Road cooperation.
"Ideological confrontation, geopolitical rivalry and bloc politics are not a choice for us. What we stand against are unilateral sanctions, economic coercion and decoupling and supply chain disruption," said the Chinese president.