Belt and Road transforming vision into rewarding actions

China Daily | Updated: 2019-04-23

Like it or not, the Belt and Road Initiative, which some have never stopped stigmatizing as a debt trap or a geopolitical tool from day one, has thrived to become the most productive driver of global growth and interconnectivity.

So far, 126 countries and 29 international organizations have signed cooperation agreements of various kinds under the framework of the initiative. Over the past six years, the total trade volume between China and the other participating countries has surpassed $6 trillion and 82 industrial parks have been established, creating nearly 300,000 local jobs.

Instead of being suppressed and marginalized as some hoped, the Belt and Road Initiative has demonstrated increasingly strong vitality, which lies in its pertinence to the needs of the world, and its emphases on inclusiveness, collectivism and sharing have endowed the initiative with great practical significance.

A World Bank report said the initiative can reduce the global freight transportation time by 1.2-2.5 percentage points on average, and the average global trade costs by 1.1-2.2 percentage points.

The rise of protectionism and unilateralism in recent years has served as a foil to the values and methodology the initiative epitomizes-dialogue prevails over stalemate, cooperation replaces confrontation, and mutual respect transcends hegemony.

Instead of seeing nations through ideological prisms, the Belt and Road Initiative focuses more on the common needs and interests of different countries. The past six years' experience of the initiative proves that countries, cultures and civilizations are no different when it comes to pursuing development and improving public welfare.

On this common ground, the complementarity of industries, technologies and markets is being fully tapped and crystallized into concrete infrastructure, energy, transportation and public projects in both developed and developing countries. No economy has been mired in debt traps, and no country has sacrificed its autonomy in this process. Instead, all participating countries, particularly the less developed, have brought tangible benefits to their own peoples.

The efficiency and transparency of the Belt and Road projects are other factors injecting impetus into it. That all of the 279 cooperation projects covering various fields agreed in the first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing in 2017 have been finished or are being implemented speaks volumes about the pragmatism of the initiative. And all of the projects-some involving multiple parties-are conducted on an equal footing, according to market rules and international conventions.

That explains why nearly 5,000 people, compared with 1,600 people in 2017, from more than 150 countries and over 90 international bodies have signed up for the second forum in Beijing from Thursday to Saturday in the expectation that the vision will continue to be transformed into actions.

China Daily 23 April 2019 (