By Mr. Xu Jian
On May 14-15, 2017, the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) was successfully held in Beijing. The theme of the forum is “Belt and Road: Cooperation for Common Prosperity”.
The two-day BRF had wide attendance of over 1500 officials, scholars, entrepreneurs and journalists from more than 130 countries and 70 international organisations. Among them there were 29 heads of states and governments such as Russian President, Vladimir Putin, Indonesian President, Joko Widodo, Chilean President, Michelle Bachelet, Argentine President, Mauricio Macri and 3 heads of leading international organisations such as UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, World Bank President, Jim Yong Kim and Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde.
The main events of the BRF included opening ceremony, high-level plenary meetings, six parallel conferences and roundtable leaders’ summit.
The BRF aims to discuss ways to boost cooperation, build cooperation platforms and share cooperation outcomes.
The BRF also explores ways to address problems facing global and regional economy, create fresh energy for pursuing interconnected development and make the Belt and Road Initiative deliver greater benefits to the people of all countries.
The roundtable leaders’ summit of the BRF adopted a joint communique and released an outcome list.
The success of the BRF has great repercussion for the world and brings new opportunities for international cooperation.
In the autumn of 2013, respectively in Kazakhstan and Indonesia, Chinese President, Xi Jinping proposed the building of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which is known as the Belt and Road Initiative. Its core content is to promote infrastructure construction and connectivity, dock national policies and development strategies, deepen pragmatic cooperation, promote coordinated development and achieve common prosperity.
This initiative stems from Chinese President Xi’s observation and reflection of the world situation. From the historical perspective, mankind has reached an age of great progress, great transformation and profound changes. In terms of reality, we find ourselves in a world fraught with challenges. Deficit in peace, development and governance poses a daunting challenge to mankind.
The Belt and Road Initiative can create opportunities amidst challenges and changes. This Initiative is meant to be major international public goods benefiting all countries. It is not an empty slogan, but rather a series of visible and concrete actions centering on the crucial link of connectivity and infrastructure development as a key part of economic cooperation.
China is committed to the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. China stresses practical cooperation, win-win outcomes and step-by-step progress. China is looking to align its development with that of other countries and encouraging greater synergy between their respective development strategies and cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative. This will be conducive to expanded regional investment and domestic demand, job creation, poverty reduction and a higher level of development of the entire region and the world at large.
The Belt and Road Initiative has gained wide support from the international community.
At the opening ceremony of the BRF, Chinese President, Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech of “Work Together to Build the Silk Road Economic Belt and The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road”. In the speech, the Silk Road Spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit is highlighted.
The vision of the Belt and Road Initiative is becoming a reality and bearing rich fruit. The past four years have witnessed deepened policy connectivity, enhanced infrastructure connectivity, increased trade connectivity, expanded financial connectivity and strengthened people-to-people connectivity.
Over 100 countries and international organisations have supported and got involved in this initiative, among which more than 40 have signed cooperation agreements with China, reaching a broad international consensus on the Belt and Road Initiative.
The UN General Assembly, UN Security Council, UNESCAP, APEC, ASEM, the GMS have all incorporated or reflected Belt and Road cooperation in their relevant resolutions and documents. A number of important early harvests have been made. Economic corridor development is making steady progress. An interconnected infrastructure network is taking shape. Trade and investment has increased significantly. Key project cooperation is underway.
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and Silk Road Fund have provided firm support to financial cooperation. China Railway Express trains to Europe have been operating on the vast Eurasian continent, loaded with goods and matching the market needs of countries along the route. The trains have also set up a bridge of communication and friendship between peoples along the route.
Total trade between China and other Belt and Road participating countries in 2014-2016 has exceeded US$3 trillion, and China’s investment in these countries has surpassed US$50 billion. Chinese companies have set up 56 economic cooperation zones in over 20 countries, generating some US$1.1 billion tax revenue and 180,000 jobs for them.
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has provided US$1.7 billion loans for 9 projects in the Belt and Road participating countries. The Silk Road Fund has made US$4 billion of investment.
According to the vision outlined by Chinese President Xi Jinping and accepted by the participants at the BRF, the Belt and Road should be built into a road for peace, a road of prosperity, a road of opening up, a road of innovation and a road of civilisation. In order to further promote international cooperation, President Xi pledges that China will scale up financing support for the Belt and Road Initiative by contributing an additional RMB 100 billion to the Silk Road Fund.
The China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China will set up special lending schemes respectively worth RMB 250 billion equivalent and RMB 130 billion equivalent to support Belt and Road cooperation on infrastructure, industrial capacity and financing.
During the BRF, China has signed business and trade cooperation agreements with over 30 countries and entered into consultation on free trade agreements with related countries.
In the coming five years, China will offer 2,500 short-term research visits to it for young foreign scientists, train 5,000 foreign scientists, engineers and managers, and set up 50 joint laboratories.
In the coming three years, China will provide assistance worth RMB 60 billion to developing countries and international organisations participating in the Belt and Road Initiative to launch more projects to improve people’s well-being.
The Belt and Road Initiative and the BRF offer tremendous opportunity for international cooperation. As developing countries, China and Latin American and the Caribbean countries are at a similar stage of development with the same development tasks.
The Belt and Road initiative and the BRF are open to all friendly countries in the world, which will enhance the existing mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Latin American and the Caribbean countries. Now more and more Latin American and the Caribbean countries are actively involved in the process.
On May 13, just two days before the BRF, Chile and Bolivia were approved to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, bringing the bank’s total membership from Latin America to 5 countries. We are convinced that Latin American and the Caribbean countries will play more and more important roles in the Belt and Road Initiative in the future.
Since China and Grenada resumed their diplomatic relations 12 years ago, our two countries have been enjoying strong and fruitful cooperation from various fields on the basis of One-China principle.
The political mutual trust between China and Grenada has been enhanced to a record height by frequent high-level visits and exchanges from both countries. A number of cooperative projects have been completed through joint efforts including the National Athletic Stadium, the first phase of low-income houses and so on.
Our two countries and two peoples benefit a lot from the fraternal relationship. The Sino-Grenadian relationship is now in the golden age and the best period of the history. It is the shared view and common wish that more and more tangible outcome should be delivered out of the mature relationship between China and Grenada.
The success of the Belt and Road Initiative and the BRF reveals that they could offer unprecedented opportunities and new channels for the expanding Sino-Grenadian cooperation as well as the further development of Grenada in addition to traditional means.
The engagement of Grenada in the Belt and Road Initiative is vital and warmly welcomed. Under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative and the BRF, the Sino-Grenadian relationship can be further enhanced and enriched.
(Xu Jian is the Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Grenada)