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China’s Belt and Road Initiative offers opportunity, bodes well for future successes

By Du Mingming (People's Daily Online)    19:42, May 16, 2017
China’s Belt and Road Initiative offers opportunity, bodes well for future successes

The two-day Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation concluded on May 15 in Beijing. A total of 68 nations and international organizations signed cooperation agreements with China over the course of the event. The forum also led to more than 270 outcomes and a joint communiqué.

During the past two days, the People’s Daily Online interviewed many people at the forum, including officials, scholars, entrepreneurs, NGO leaders and media figures. The below summaries are based on abstracts from several interviewees, sharing their understanding of the initiative, commenting on the forum and describing their expectations for future actions.

The initiative was significant and bold

The Belt and Road Initiative is not China’s Marshall Plan, but rather a “long-term economic project to promote communication and cooperation, and to benefit, together, all of us,” said Jing Huang, director of the Centre on Asia and Globalization at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at Singapore National University. He stressed that the purpose of the Belt and Road Initiative is to promote joint development and globalization.

Huang pointed out that Chinese President Xi Jinping has laid out a fundamentally peace-oriented approach for China’s foreign policy. It “not only gives us a very good, clear description of what to do in terms of foreign policy, but also make a great contribution to international relations theories,” Huang said.

Peter Drysdale, a professor at the College of Asia and Pacific at Australian National University, told the People’s Daily Online that the Belt and Road Initiative offers a huge opportunity. He pointed out that the initiative is China’s “boldest attempt yet to spell out the way it might engage with the world, seeking more certainty in its relations with neighbors across Asia and countries around the world.”

Eric Heitz, CEO and co-founder of the U.S.-based Energy Foundation, said that the Belt and Road Initiative is “a significant attempt of China’s participation in global economic, environmental and social governance, and also an essential node to consolidate China’s global leadership.” Heitz also said that the initiative should make wider use of existing international communication and cooperation platforms.

The forum bodes well for future successes

Chinese President Xi Jinping said at the forum that China will scale up financial support for the Belt and Road Initiative. Huang opined that President Xi’s speech was “an expensive talk,” acknowledging China’s financial commitment to the development of the initiative. Huang also described this commitment as “solid, long-term and full-hearted.”

Heitz remarked that "it's inspiring to see the leaders of China and so many other important countries work together on the ‘Belt and Road’ as a new model of collaborative and sustainable development. This bodes well for future success."

Drysdale commented that China’s plan to scale up financing for the Belt and Road Initiative constitutes a substantial contribution. He said the big challenge will be “to establish the right frameworks of cooperation to ensure that the massive financial commitments are productively spent on lifting productive capacities”.

Ikenna Emewu, online editor from the Sun Daily in Nigeria, noted that President Xi created a link between the ancient Silk Road and modern Silk Road. He sees the initiative as “an emerging new world economic order, second largest global economic platform, just next to the World Bank and IMF.”

Claude Leblanc, a journalist from L’Opinon in France, said President Xi’s speech deeply impressed him. He believes the Belt and Road Initiative will build a new model of international relations in the future.

“It is something very huge, because it gives hope to a lot of people around the world,” Leblanc said.

Expectations and future actions

Steve Howard, secretary general of the Global Foundation in Australia, opined that the foundation will strongly advocate for Australian politicians and communities to support a role for Australia in the Belt and Road Initiative, ”just as we were successful in advocating for Australia to join the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).” Howard is an international advisor for the latter institution.

Heitz stressed that the Energy Foundation hopes “all counties take an active part in the initiative, no matter if they are developed counties or developing ones.” The foundation will keep working to improve international cooperation, supporting the development of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Huang emphasized that the Belt and Road Initiative is more than just a project for China, but also an economic activity. He pointed out that enterprises are essential participants in the initiative. Therefore, the Chinese government should offer policy support, legal protections and financial credit to businesses that have joined the project.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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