专家就“一带一路”倡议交流观点 - 2023-10-23


This photo taken on Oct 16, 2023 shows a decoration for the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, capital of China. 

Editor's note: After fruitful 10 years of the Belt and Road Initiative, the initiative enters into another golden decade with efforts to achieve modernization for countries and build an open and inclusive world. Eight major steps are delivered to bring Belt and Road cooperation to a new stage of higher-quality and higher-level development. Three experts share their views on the issue with China Daily.

Initiative rooted in history but oriented toward future

Since its launch 10 years ago, the Belt and Road Initiative has evolved from a general framework to concrete, successful projects. The initiative not only optimizes resource allocation to improve productivity, but also helps strengthen production relations among countries through policy coordination, and by forging closer people-to-people ties. And cooperation on industrial development has strengthened the economic foundation of the Belt and Road countries, while helping improve global governance.

During the past 10 years, China and other Belt and Road countries have promoted policy coordination, with more than 150 countries and 30 international organizations signing Belt and Road cooperation agreements with China. The BRI has established cooperation and coordination with a wide range of policies and initiatives, including Russia's Eurasian Economic Union framework, Kazakhstan's Bright Road economic policy, Turkmenistan's strategy of reviving the Silk Road, and Indonesia's Global Marine Fulcrum initiative.

In the 10 years of its existence, basic connectivity over land, sea, air and cyberspace has been established based on the principles of "six corridors, six routes, and multiple countries and ports". As the flagship project of the Belt and Road cooperation, the China-Europe Freight Train now covers more than 200 cities in 25 European countries, and has been hailed as a "steel camel fleet" running through the Eurasian continent.

Also, China's goods trade with other Belt and Road countries increased from $1.04 trillion to $2.07 trillion in the past 10 years, with an average annual growth of 8 percent, much higher than the global average growth.

The Belt and Road Initiative advocates equality, mutual learning, dialogue and inclusiveness among civilizations, while promoting the shared values of humanity. It has charted a path of exchanges and mutual learning to forge closer ties among peoples and link up cultures and hearts across continents.
Second, the initiative has helped accelerate the industrialization of other Belt and Road countries, and boost their industrial cooperation and economic growth. China has also been upgrading its industrial structure, and has helped other Belt and Road countries upgrade and bolster their industries, so as to ensure their economic complementarity yields mutual benefits.

Cooperation between the Belt and Road countries has helped alleviate poverty in a large number of Belt and Road countries, with the World Bank estimating that by 2030, Belt and Road-related investments could lift 7.6 million people out of extreme poverty and 32 million people out of moderate poverty.

In keeping with its climate promises and to fulfill its responsibilities as a major country, China announced in 2021 that it would stop building new coal-fired power plants overseas.

Third, the initiative has helped China work out a new development model to promote globalization. Which could help tackle the rising tides of de-globalization, unilateralism and trade protectionism in some countries. The multilateral trading system, with the World Trade Organization at the core, is facing daunting challenges, and the initiative's new development model could also help China to address some of those challenges.

It is called the international division of labor. Yet most of the developing countries involved in the BRI are excluded from it. By gradually changing the domestic and global economic landscape, the initiative has ensured that those countries can enjoy some of the benefits of the international division of labor. This is the basic difference between the BRI and the West-led unfair and unbalanced global cooperation and development model.

And fourth, the initiative has provided new solutions to global governance problems. Although the BRI has injected new impetus into the global governance system, global governance can be improved only after the mechanism undergoes major reforms.

Besides, the economic foundation of many developing countries is weak and hence they cannot pursue rigorous industrial development, so they focus on achieving general economic development under the Belt and Road framework. This is how the initiative meets the demands of and provides new development paths for developing countries.

The BRI is rooted in history but oriented toward the future. It has been proposed by China but belongs to the world. The initiative is a means to build a community with a shared future for mankind.

President Xi Jinping unveiled eight major steps to elevate cooperation under the Belt and Road framework to a new stage of higher-quality and higher-level development. They will further consolidate the foundation for cooperation and common development.

The author is Zhao Zhongxiu, president of the University of International Business and Economics. 

Security tops agenda from Polish perspective

Ten years ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping came up with the idea of Belt and Road Initiative. From the very beginning it was a confirmation of China's new global role. As such, it was accepted with mixed feelings by the Western world — not in the United States alone but also in some European countries — but with wide expectations by most of the countries in the Global South.

The past decade's experience of the Belt and Road Initiative has taught us many lessons. Looking from the Central European, or the Polish, perspective, one can describe the current global situation thus: The world right now is different from what it was decades ago; it is more turbulent, more fragmented, with the international financial architecture in a state of flux, and with new institutional frameworks not only on the economic front (BRICS+, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) but also in the security sphere (the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, AUKUS and Quad).

The three-year-long COVID-19 pandemic and the damaging impacts of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, among others, have created a new situation. Instead of mutual engagement, we frequently witness major power politics on the world stage.

However, some major European countries, starting from Germany and France, fortunately, did not subscribe to — the recently popular — idea of decoupling, that is, great disruption between, mainly, China and the US. Instead, we have started to use the term defined by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in late March this year, "de-risking", that is, to avoid and properly manage the risks, without jumping into the abyss of open conflict.

Initially, the Belt and Road Initiative was an "express train of Chinese development", as described by President Xi. In the new era of tension, growing competition and uncertainty, this goal will be definitively more difficult to achieve than originally intended. Thus, everyone, in China and the outside world, paid greater attention to the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation which concluded in Beijing on Wednesday.

What can be expected?

Looking from our rather narrow but crucial Polish perspective, due to our strategic location between Western and Eastern civilizations but with strong engagement in the Western alliance, including also our experience of cooperation, one can figure out the following important issues, when looking to the future of the Belt and Road Initiative:

Given the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, it is not easy for Poland to play its traditional role of a bridge not only on the East-West axis but also the North-South axis (meaning Scandinavian countries on one side and the Balkans on the other). Only a peaceful solution to the ongoing conflict can help us to resume our traditional role of intermediary or central partner.

Poland is strongly connected to German and Western European economics, as confirmed by available data, thus the recent German policy toward China, adopted in July this year, with "de-risking", is a kind of benchmark for the authorities in Warsaw. It includes the central statement of this policy, namely that China and the global role of China have changed and thus our approach also has to be changed and diversified. It will be, according to this document, our "partner, competitor and systemic rival".

The experience of the past decade shows that the Belt and Road Initiative should be focused not only on big infrastructure projects, but also take into consideration constantly growing climate and ecological demands. At the same time, a win-win strategy, as initially proposed, should mean more engagement of the recipient side. It should rather be a local project with — stronger or weaker — Chinese support.

Yes, Poland is crucial for the overland routes for trains and road transportation, but also deeply engaged with the Western/NATO alliance, so crucial during the conflict on our borders. It complicates the case, at least until a peace treaty is signed, which, unfortunately, is not visible even on the horizon, as neither side of the conflict is ready to retreat.

The essence of the Belt and Road Initiative is connectivity, which — as we can see — recently is increasingly focused on chips, artificial intelligence, rare earths and outer space, and not only massive infrastructure projects, as it was a decade ago.

As for the Chinese leadership, it is prioritizing a global vision of a community with a shared future for humankind narrative. Only when no conflict is on our doors can we again expect business, and not a security agenda on the top.
But when? Nobody knows. Many questions remain to be answered.

The author is Bogdan J.G Ralczyk, former ambassador of the Republic of Poland to Thailand, and the director of the European Center of the University of Warsaw. 

BRI brings concrete developments for Kazakhstan

Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the Silk Road Economic Belt during his visit to Kazakhstan in 2013.

Kazakhstan was among the first countries to join the Belt and Road Initiative cooperation 10 years ago, because it realized the future impact and strategic importance of the initiative.

Now more than 150 countries and 30 international organizations have signed more than 230 cooperation agreements with China under the Belt and Road framework, reflecting the global popularity of the initiative. The Belt and Road Initiative has proved its effectiveness in finding new ways to overcome financial crises, combat pandemics, improve infrastructure connectivity, promote trade and uphold multilateralism.

From 2013 to 2022, the cumulative two-way investment between China and partner countries reached $380 billion, including $240 billion from China. The value of newly signed construction contracts with partner countries reached $2 trillion, and the actual turnover of Chinese contractors reached $1.3 trillion. It is due to China's untiring efforts that the initiative has entered its second decade.

Last year, the leaders of Kazakhstan and China vowed to take bilateral relations into another golden 30 years, which would help the two sides make great achievements and gather rich experience from cooperation.

Sino-Kazakh cooperation under the Belt and Road framework plays a special role in bilateral ties. Kazakhstan has become a key link between Eurasia and the Asia-Pacific region thanks to its strategic role as a transport and logistics hub. The country has successfully aligned its "Bright Road" economic policy with the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.

Many infrastructure projects built by two countries are already operational. They include the China-Kazakhstan International Logistics Base in Lianyungang city, Jiangsu province, the dry port in the Special Economic Zone Horgos-Eastern Gates, the Aktau Port on the eastern coast of the Caspian Sea in Kazakhstan, the China-Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran transport corridor, and the Western China-Western Europe international transport corridor. Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev attended the ceremony to begin the construction of Kazakhstan's logistics center in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, during his state visit to China in May. The logistics center will connect China, Kazakhstan, Central Asia, Europe, Turkiye and Iran. Also, Kazakhstan and China are studying the feasibility of building a third cross-border railway, and have decided to build a container hub at Aktau Port. These projects will help boost Kazakhstan's trade and unlock the transport potential of the two sides.

The Belt and Road projects have transformed Kazakhstan from a landlocked country to a land-linked country and an important transport hub linking Asia and Europe.

Under the Belt and Road framework, Kazakhstan became the first country to establish a production capacity and investment cooperation mechanism with China. According to China's Ministry of Commerce, Beijing ranked the fifth in foreign direct investment in Kazakhstan in 2021.

The China-Central Asia trade volume reached $70 billion in 2022, with Sino-Kazakh trade accounting for about 45 percent of the total. According to Kazakhstan's estimates, the trade volume will reach $100 billion in 2030. And Kazakhstan is committed to making efforts to increase Sino-Kazakh trade to $40 billion. By the way, the two sides strive to remove administrative and procedural barriers hindering trade and the flow of capital.

Furthermore, the "Green Silk Road" program initiated by China has promising prospects. In February, Kazakhstan announced that it will achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, and the Green Silk Road can help it realize its important climate goal.

China and Kazakhstan are also working on introducing visa-free travel between the two countries, allowing the citizens of the two countries to stay up to 30 days in the other country. This will not only increase bilateral trade but also boost tourism and people-to-people exchanges between the two sides. Coincidentally, 2024 will be the Kazakhstan Year of Tourism in China.

The Belt and Road Initiative has boosted trade and investment across the world, with China sharing its development experiences with other Belt and Road countries. According to a World Bank report, the initiative helped increase the trade of the Belt and Road countries by 4.1 percent and attracted 5 percent more FDI, while increasing low-income countries' GDP by 3.4 percent. And by 2030, the initiative is projected to generate $1.6 trillion in annual global revenue, accounting for 1.3 percent of global GDP. More importantly, Belt and Road-related investments are expected to lift 7.6 million people out of extreme poverty and 32 million people out of moderate poverty.

The initiative is set to play a more important role in multinational cooperation despite the rapidly changing global landscape, foundering global recovery, trade restrictions imposed by some economies and the disruptions in global supply chains. Given the fast-changing global situation, however, China and Kazakhstan should join hands under the Belt and Road framework to find solutions to regional and international economic and political problems, and restore peace and facilitate development.

The author is Shakhrat Nuryshev, Kazakhstan's ambassador to China. 

Source: China Daily





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