Belt and Road, Magnificent Corridor
The outcomes of the Belt and Road Initiative have been delivered worldwide. The initiative, which links the Asia-pacific economic circle to the east and connects the European economy to the west, runs through mountains and across oceans. It is being constructed into the most magnificent corridor in the world.
More than two millennia ago, the diligent and courageous people of Eurasia explored and opened up several routes of trade and cultural exchanges that linked major civilisations of Asia, Europe and Africa, collectively called the “Silk Road” by later generations. For thousands of years, the Silk Road Spirit of “peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit” has been passed down from generation to generation, promoted progress of human civilisation, and contributed greatly to the prosperity and development of countries along the Silk Road. Symbolising communication and cooperation between the East and West, the Silk Road Spirit is a historic and cultural heritage shared by all countries around the world.
In the 21st century, a new era is marked by themes of peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit, all the more important for people to carry on the spirit of the Silk Road. When Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Central Asia and Southeast Asia in September and October of 2013, he raised the initiative of jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road (Belt and Road), which have attracted attention from around the world.
The Belt and Road Initiative aims to complement each other’s advantages and promote coordinated development by strengthening international cooperation and integrating development strategies. Three years since its proposal, the initiative has drawn the participation of more than 100 countries and international organisations from around the globe, 40 of which signed cooperation agreements with China and reached international consensus. Resolutions or documents approved by the General Assembly and the Security Council of the United Nations (UN), UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Asia-pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and The Greater Mekong Sub-region reflected contents of the initiative. Construction of economic corridors has run smoothly and its connectivity network has gradually taken shape. Trade investment has increased substantially and cooperation with major projects has been implemented as scheduled, with a number of outcomes made. The establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Silk Road Fund provide solid support for financial cooperation. CHINA RAILWAY Express, named for all Europe-bound trains, transporting cargo, links market demands of China and European countries and bridges people-to-people friendship among countries, proving to be a landscape on the Belt and Road.
The Belt and Road Initiative was proposed by China, but its outcomes will further benefit the world. It links the AsiaPacific economic circle to the east, European economic circle to the west, and runs through mountains and rivers, forming a magnificent corridor.
Chinese Idea Brings World Benefit
On September 7, 2013, Chinese president Xi Jinping gave a speech titled Promote People-to-people Friendship and Create a Better Future at Kazakhstan’s Nazarbayev University. For the first time, Xi proposed to join hands building a Silk Road economic belt. He said that in order to increase economic ties, mutual cooperation deeper and space of development broader between the Eurasian countries, cooperation and jointly building the “Silk Road Economic Belt” to gradually form an overall regional cooperation.
On October 3, 2013, Chinese president Xi Jinping delivered a speech Jointly Building the CHINA-ASEAN Community of Shared Destiny at People’s Representative Council of Indonesia, known as the parliament and proposed construction of the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road. Xi said China was ready to open itself more to
ASEAN countries on the basis of equality and mutual benefit and was prepared to upgrade the CHINA-ASEAN Free Trade Area and strive to expand two-way trade to US$1 trillion by 2020. China is committed to greater connectivity with ASEAN countries, proposing the establishment of an Asian infrastructure investment bank and strengthening maritime cooperation with ASEAN countries and build the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road together.
On June 28, 2014, Xi Jinping attended a conference to commemorate the 60th anniversary for issuing the “Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence” at the Great Hall of the People and delivered a keynote speech. He said that China was prompting implementation of major cooperation initiatives, such as the Silk Road Economic Belt, 21st-century Maritime Silk Road, Bangladesh-china-india-myanmar Economic Corridor, and CHINA-ASEAN Community of Shared Destiny, and promoting a new round of opening up and developing an open economic system, so as to bring new opportunities and space for developing Asia and the rest of the world.
On November 9, 2014, Xi Jinping gave the speech Seek Sustained Development and Fulfill the Asia-pacific Dream at the APEC CEO Summit China 2014. The speech indicated that China was ready to work with other countries to promote the building of the “Silk Road Economic Belt” and the “21st-century Maritime Silk Road,” become more engaged in regional cooperation, and make new contributions to connectivity, development, and prosperity of the Asia-pacific. An essential step forward has been made in preparatory work for the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and an inter-governmental MOU was signed by the founding members of the bank not long ago in Beijing. China would commit US$40 billion to the establishment of a Silk Road Fund to provide investment and financial support for countries along the Belt and Road to undertake relevant projects in infrastructure, developing resources and industrial cooperation.
The Belt and Road Initiative is an important measure to expanding opening up in a new era, committed to bringing development opportunities and outcomes to more countries. On November 7, 2015, Xi Jinping gave the speech Deepen Cooperation Partnership Relationship; Jointly Build Beautiful Asian Homeland at the National University of Singapore. He said that the Belt and Road is an initiative of development, cooperation and openness which emphasises joint construction through consultation to meet the interests of all. More than 60 countries and international organisations were active to participate. China reached cooperation agreements with many countries. The agreement of AIIB was signed; the Silk Road Fund set about preparing specific projects and steady progress was made in bilateral and multilateral cooperation projects. Neighbouring countries are the foremost cooperation partners of the initiative, also the first to benefit from it.
On November 19, 2016, Xi Jinping attended the APEC CEO
Summit Peru 2016 and delivered a keynote speech Deepen partnership relation, Strengthen Development Momentum. Xi said China would welcome all countries to participate in the Belt and Road to share opportunities, greet challenges and seek out development.
On January 17, Xi Jinping attended the Opening Session of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2017 and gave the speech Jointly Shoulder Responsibility of Our Times, Promote Global Growth. He said that more than 40 countries and international organisations have signed cooperation agreements with China, and that a circle of friends along the “Belt and Road” is growing bigger. Chinese companies have made over US$50 billion of investment and launched a number of major projects in countries along the routes, spurring economic development of these countries and creating local jobs.
On May 13 and 14, 2017, Beijing will host the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, aiming to discuss ways to boost cooperation, build cooperation platforms and share cooperation outcomes. The forum will also explore ways to address problems facing the global and regional economy, pursue interconnected development and make the “Belt and Road” initiative deliver greater benefits to people of involved countries.
Advanced Initiative with Clear Framework
The Belt and Road Initiative is a systematic project, which should be jointly built through consultation to meet the interests of all, and efforts should be made to integrate development strategies of the countries along the Belt and Road. To promote the implementation of the Initiative, instill vigor and vitality into the ancient Silk Road, Asian, European and African countries should be more closely connected in new ways to promote mutually beneficial cooperation to a new height.
On March 28, 2015, National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC, and the Ministry of Commerce of the PRC jointly issued the Vision and Actions on Jointly Building Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-century Maritime Silk Road ( Vision and Actions). It pointed out: Accelerating the building of the Belt and Road can help promote the economic prosperity of the countries along the Belt and Road and regional economic cooperation, strengthen exchanges and mutual learning among different civilisations, and promote world peace and development. It is a great undertaking to benefit people around the world.
In the new era, the construction of the Belt and Road is aimed at promoting orderly and free flow of economic factors, highly efficient allocation of resources and deep integration of markets; encouraging the countries along the Belt and Road to achieve economic policy coordination and carry out broader and more in-depth regional cooperation of higher standards; and jointly creating an open, inclusive and balanced regional economic cooperation architecture that benefits all. Jointly building the Belt and Road is in the interests of the world community. Reflecting the common ideals and pursuit of human societies, it is a positive endeavour to seek new models of international cooperation and global governance, and will inject new positive energy into world peace and development.
The Belt and Road Initiative is in line with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. It upholds the “Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence:” mutual respect for each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual nonaggression, mutual noninterference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence.
The initiative is open for cooperation. It covers, but is not limited to, the area of the ancient Silk Road. It is open to all countries, and international and regional organisations for engagement, so that results of concerted efforts will benefit wider areas.
The initiative is harmonious and inclusive. It advocates tolerance among civilisations, respects the paths and modes of development chosen by different countries, and supports dialogues among different civilisations on the principles of seeking common ground while shelving differences and drawing on each other’s strengths, so that all countries can coexist in peace and prosperity.
The initiative follows market operation. It will abide by market rules and international norms, give play to the decisive role of the market in resource allocation and the primary role of enterprises, and let the governments perform their due functions.
The initiative seeks mutual benefit, accommodating the interests and concerns of parties involved and seeking a conjunction of interests and the “biggest common denominator” for cooperation so as to give full play to the wisdom and creativity, strengths and potential of all parties.
Openness, Cooperation, Mutual Benefit
The Belt and Road Initiative is a way for win-win cooperation that promotes common development and prosperity and a road toward peace and friendship by enhancing mutual understanding and trust, and strengthening all-around exchanges. The Chinese government advocates peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit. It promotes practical cooperation in all fields, and works to build a community of shared interests, destiny and responsibility featuring mutual political trust, economic integration and cultural inclusiveness.
The Belt and Road run through the continents of Asia, Europe and Africa, connecting the vibrant East Asia economic circle at one end and developed European economic circle at the other, and encompassing countries with huge potential for economic development. The Silk Road Economic Belt focuses on bringing together China, Central Asia, Russia and Europe (the Baltic); linking China with the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea through Central Asia and West Asia; and connecting China with Southeast
Asia, South Asia and the Indian Ocean. The 21st-century Maritime Silk Road is designed to go from China’s coast to Europe through the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean in one route, and from China's coast through the South China Sea to the South Pacific in the other.
On land, the initiative will focus on jointly building a new Eurasian Land Bridge and developing China-mongolia-russia, China-central Asia-west Asia and China-indochina Peninsula economic corridors by taking advantage of international transport routes, relying on core cities along the Belt and Road and using key economic industrial parks as cooperation platforms. At sea, the initiative will focus on jointly building more efficient transport routes connecting major sea ports along the Belt and Road. The China-pakistan Economic Corridor and the Bangladesh-china-india-myanmar Economic Corridor are closely related to the Belt and Road Initiative, which require closer cooperation and greater progress.
The initiative is an ambitious economic vision of the openingup of and cooperation among the countries along the Belt and Road. Countries should work in concert and move toward the objectives of mutual benefit and common security. To be specific, they need to improve the region's infrastructure, and put in place a secure and efficient network of land, sea and air passages, lifting their connectivity to a higher level; further enhance trade and investment facilitation, establish a network of free trade areas that meet high standards, maintain closer economic ties, and deepen political trust; enhance cultural exchanges; encourage different civilisations to learn from each other and flourish together; and promote mutual understanding, peace and friendship among people of all countries.
Five Ways for Efficient Regional Cooperation
The Vision and Actions points out: policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration, and peopleto-people bond constitute the main cooperation content. They are the key to promote efficient regional cooperation and realise the resources distribution.
Enhancing policy coordination is an important guarantee for implementing the initiative. The Vision and Actions put forward: promote intergovernmental cooperation, build a multilevel intergovernmental macro policy exchange and communication mechanism, expand shared interests, enhance mutual political trust, and reach new cooperation consensus. Countries along the Belt and Road may fully coordinate their economic development strategies and policies, work out plans and measures for regional cooperation, negotiate to solve cooperation-related issues, and jointly provide policy support for the implementation of practical cooperation and large-scale projects.
Facilities connectivity is a priority area for implementing the initiative. On the basis of respecting each other’s sovereignty and security concerns, countries along the Belt and Road should improve the connectivity of their infrastructure construction plans and technical standard systems, jointly push forward the construction of international trunk passageways, and form an infrastructure network connecting all subregions in Asia, and between Asia, Europe and Africa step by step. At the same time, efforts should be made to promote green and low-carbon infrastructure construction and operation management, taking into account the impact of climate change on the construction.
The article also points out: with regard to transport infrastructure construction, China should focus on the key passageways, junctions and projects, and give priority to linking up unconnected road sections, removing transport bottlenecks, advancing road safety facilities and traffic management facilities and equipment, and improving road network connectivity. China should build a unified coordination mechanism for whole- course transportation, increase connectivity of customs clearance, reloading and multimodal transport between countries, and gradually formulate compatible and standard transport rules, so as to realise international transport facilitation. Efforts should be given to push forward port infrastructure construction, build smooth land- water transportation channels, and advance port cooperation; increase sea routes and the number of voyages, and enhance information technology cooperation in maritime logistics. China should expand and build platforms and mechanisms for comprehensive civil aviation cooperation, and quicken improvements in aviation infrastructure.
Efforts should be made to promote cooperation in the connectivity of energy infrastructure, work in concert to ensure the security of oil and gas pipelines and other transport routes, build cross-border power supply networks and power-transmission routes, and cooperate in regional power grid upgrading and transformation. China should jointly advance the construction of cross-border optical cables and other communications trunk line networks, improve international communications connectivity, and create an Information Silk Road. Efforts should be given to build bilateral cross-border optical cable networks at a quicker pace, plan transcontinental submarine optical cable projects, and improve spatial (satellite) information passageways to expand information exchanges and cooperation.
Investment and trade cooperation is a major task in building the Belt and Road. The article points out: strive to improve investment and trade facilitation, and remove investment and trade barriers for the creation of a sound business environment within the region and in all related countries; discuss with countries and regions along the Belt and Road on opening free trade areas so as to unleash potential for expanded cooperation.
Countries along the Belt and Road should enhance customs cooperation such as information exchange, mutual recognition of regulations, and mutual assistance in law enforcement; improve bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the fields of inspection and quarantine, certification and accreditation, standard measurement, and statistical information; and work to ensure that the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement takes effect and
is implemented. The Vision and Actions mentions: improve the customs clearance facilities of border ports, establish a “singlewindow” in border ports, reduce customs clearance costs, and improve customs clearance capability. Efforts should be made to increase cooperation in supply chain safety and convenience, improve the coordination of cross-border supervision procedures, promote online checking of inspection and quarantine certificates, and facilitate mutual recognition of Authorized Economic Operators. We should lower non-tariff barriers, jointly improve the transparency of technical trade measures, and enhance trade liberalisation and facilitation.
The article also put forward to expand trading areas, improve trade structure, explore new growth areas of trade, and promote trade balance. Efforts should be made to make innovations in forms of trade, and develop cross-border e- commerce and other modern business models. A service trade support system should be set up to consolidate and expand conventional trade, and efforts to develop modern service trade should be strengthened. Investment and trade should be integrated to promote trade through investment.
The Vision and Actions put forward: speed up investment facilitation, eliminate investment barriers, and push forward negotiations on bilateral investment protection agreements and double taxation avoidance agreements to protect the lawful rights and interests of investors.
The Vision and Actions mentions: expand mutual investment areas, deepen cooperation in agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry and fisheries, agricultural machinery manufacturing and farm produce processing, and promote cooperation in marine-product farming, deep-sea fishing, aquatic product processing, seawater desalination, marine biopharmacy, ocean engineering technology, environmental protection industries, marine tourism and other fields. Efforts should be made to increase cooperation in the exploration and development of coal, oil, gas, metal minerals and other conventional energy sources; advance cooperation in hydropower, nuclear power, wind power, solar power and other clean, renewable energy sources; and promote cooperation in the processing and conversion of energy and resources at or near places where they are exploited, so as to create an integrated industrial chain of energy and resource cooperation. Enhancing cooperation in deep-processing technology, equipment and engineering services in the fields of energy and resources is also written in the article.
To push forward cooperation in emerging industries, in accordance with the principles of mutual complementarity and mutual benefit, countries along the Belt and Road should promote in-depth cooperation with other countries along the Belt and Road in new-generation information technology, biotechnology, new energy technology, new materials and other emerging industries, and establish entrepreneurial and investment cooperation mechanisms.
The article also points out: improve the division of labor and distribution of industrial chains by encouraging the entire industrial chain and related industries to develop in concert; establish R&D, production and marketing systems; and improve industrial supporting capacity and the overall competitiveness of regional industries. Countries should increase the openness of our service industry to each other to accelerate the development of regional service industries; explore a new way of investment cooperation, working together to build all forms of industrial parks such as overseas economic and trade cooperation zones and cross-border economic cooperation zones, and promote industrial cluster development. They should promote ecological progress in conducting investment and trade, increase cooperation in conserving eco- environment, protecting biodiversity, and tackling climate change, and join hands to make the Silk Road more environment-friendly.
China welcomes companies from all countries to invest in China, and encourage Chinese enterprises to participate in infrastructure construction in other countries along the Belt and Road, and make industrial investments there. It support localised operation and management of Chinese companies to boost the local economy, increase local employment, improve local livelihoods, and take social responsibilities in protecting local biodiversity and the eco-environment.
Financial integration is an important underpinning for implementing the Belt and Road Initiative. The Vision and Actions
mentioned: deepen financial cooperation, and make more efforts in building a currency stability system, investment and financing system and credit information system in Asia. Relevant countries should expand the scope and scale of bilateral currency swap and settlement with other countries along the Belt and Road, open and develop the bond market in Asia, make joint efforts to establish the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and BRICS New Development Bank, conduct negotiation among related parties on establishing Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) financing institution, and set up and put into operation the Silk Road Fund as early as possible.
Efforts should be made to strengthen practical cooperation of CHINA-ASEAN Interbank Association and SCO Interbank Association, and carry out multilateral financial cooperation in the form of syndicated loans and bank credit. The article mentioned: support the efforts of governments of the countries along the Belt and Road and their companies and financial institutions with good creditrating to issue Renminbi bonds in China. Qualified Chinese financial institutions and companies are encouraged to issue bonds in both Renminbi and foreign currencies outside China, and use the funds thus collected in countries along the Belt and Road.
It also mentions: strengthen financial regulation cooperation, encourage the signing of MOUS on cooperation in bilateral financial regulation, and establish an efficient regulation coordination mechanism in the region. It also required improving the system of risk response and crisis management, building a regional financial risk early-warning system, and creating an exchange and cooperation mechanism of addressing cross-border risks and crisis; increasing cross-border exchange and cooperation between credit investigation regulators, credit investigation institutions and credit rating institutions. The role of the Silk Road Fund and that of sovereign wealth funds of countries along the Belt and Road should be given full play, to encourage commercial equity investment funds and private funds to participate in the construction of key projects of the initiative.
People-to-people bond provides the public support for implementing the Initiative. The Vision and Actions mentioned: carry forward the spirit of friendly cooperation of the Silk Road by promoting extensive cultural and academic exchanges, personnel exchanges and cooperation, media cooperation, youth and women exchanges and volunteer services, so as to win public support for bilateral and multilateral cooperation.
Countries are encouraged to send more students to each other’s countries, and promote cooperation in jointly running schools. China provides 10,000 government scholarships to the countries along the Belt and Road every year. Culture years, arts festivals, film festivals, TV weeks and book fairs should be held in each other’s countries; cooperate on the production and translation of fine films, radio and TV programs; and jointly apply for and protect World Cultural Heritage sites. Personnel exchange and cooperation between countries along the Belt and Road should be increased.
The article mentions: enhance cooperation in and expand the scale of tourism; hold tourism promotion weeks and publicity months in each other’s countries; jointly create competitive international tourist routes and products with Silk Road features; and make it more convenient to apply for tourist visa in countries along the Belt and Road. Efforts should be made to push forward cooperation on the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road cruise tourism program and carry out sports exchanges and support countries along the Belt and Road in their bid for hosting major international sports events.
In the fields of medical and health care, the article mentioned: strengthen cooperation with neighboring countries on epidemic information sharing, the exchange of prevention and treatment technologies and the training of medical professionals, and improve our capability to jointly address public health emergencies. Medical assistance and emergency medical aid should be offered to relevant countries, and carry out practical cooperation in maternal and child health, disability rehabilitation, and major infectious diseases including AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
Increase cooperation in science and technology, establish joint labs (or research centers), international technology transfer centers and maritime cooperation centers, promote sci-tech personnel exchanges, cooperate in tackling key sci-tech problems, and work together to improve sci-tech innovation capability.
Integrate existing resources to expand and advance practical cooperation between countries along the Belt and Road on youth employment, entrepreneurship training, vocational skill development, social security management, public administration and management and in other areas of common interest.
The Vision and Actions put forward: give full play to the bridging role of communication between political parties and parliaments, and promote friendly exchanges between legislative bodies, major political parties and political organisations of countries along the Belt and Road. Carry out exchanges and cooperation among cities, encourage major cities in these countries to become sister cities, focus on promoting practical cooperation, particularly cultural and people-to-people exchanges, and create more lively examples of cooperation. China welcomes the think tanks in the countries along the Belt and Road to jointly conduct research and hold forums.
In addition, increase exchanges and cooperation between nongovernmental organisations of countries along the Belt and Road, organise public interest activities concerning education, healthcare, poverty reduction, biodiversity and ecological protection for the benefit of the general public, and improve the production and living conditions of poverty-stricken areas along the Belt and Road. Enhance international exchanges and cooperation on culture and media, and leverage the positive role of the Internet and new media tools to foster a harmonious and friendly cultural environment and public opinion.
Mechanism for Bilateral, Multilateral Cooperation The world economic integration is accelerating and regional cooperation is on the upswing. China will take full advantage of
the existing bilateral and multilateral cooperation mechanisms to push forward the building of the Belt and Road and to promote the development of regional cooperation.
Strengthen bilateral cooperation, and promote comprehensive development of bilateral relations through multilevel and multichannel communication and consultation. Encourage the signing of cooperation MOUS or plans, and develop a number of bilateral cooperation pilot projects. Establish and improve bilateral joint working mechanisms, and draw up implementation plans and road maps for advancing the Belt and Road Initiative. Give full play to the existing bilateral mechanisms such as joint committee, mixed committee, coordinating committee, steering committee and management committee to coordinate and promote the implementation of cooperation projects.
Enhance the role of multilateral cooperation mechanisms, make full use of existing mechanisms such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), ASEAN Plus China (10+1), Asia-pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Asia-europe Meeting (ASEM), Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), Conference on Interaction and ConfidenceBuilding Measures in Asia (CICA), China-arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF), China-gulf Cooperation Council Strategic Dialogue, Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Economic Cooperation, and Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) to strengthen communication with relevant countries, and attract more countries and regions to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative.
The Vision and Actions also puts forward to continue to encourage the constructive role of the international forums and exhibitions at regional and subregional levels hosted by countries along the Belt and Road, as well as such platforms as Boao Forum for Asia, CHINA-ASEAN Expo, China-eurasia Expo, Euro-asia Economic Forum, China International Fair for Investment and Trade, ChinaSouth Asia Expo, China-arab States Expo, Western China International Fair, China-russia Expo, and Qianhai Cooperation Forum. Support the local authorities and general public of countries along the Belt and Road to explore the historical and cultural heritage of the Belt and Road, jointly hold investment, trade and cultural exchange activities, and ensure the success of the Silk Road (Dunhuang) International Culture Expo, Silk Road International Film Festival and Silk Road International Book Fair. Set up an international summit forum on the Belt and Road Initiative.
Eight Requirements for Building a Unique Silk Road
On June 22, 2016, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a speech at the Legislative Chamber of the Uzbek Supreme Assembly in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, calling for the establishment of a “green, healthy, intelligent and peaceful” Silk Road. He said, “Deepen environmental cooperation, practise green development ideals, strengthen to protect ecology to create “Green Silk Road”; deepen medical and health cooperation and strengthen cooperation in informing of epidemics, disease prevention and control, medical rescue, and traditional medicine fields, to create “Healthy Silk Road”; further develop talented personnel and cooperation to create “Intelligent Silk Road”; deepen security cooperation and practise common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable Asian security principle to build a “Peaceful Silk Road.”
On August 17, 2016, Xi Jinping attended a Belt and Road construction conference in Beijing and proposed to focus on building
a mutually beneficial cooperation network, and multiple cooperation platforms to construct green, healthy, intelligent and peaceful Silk Road. The construction must be advanced with perseverance and outcomes should be delivered to benefit those along the Belt and Road.
Meanwhile, Xi Jinping stressed eight requirements: adhere to principles of extensive consultation, joint construction and shared benefit, focus on major regions, countries and projects, give propriety to development, “the biggest common denominator,” benefit Chinese people and people in countries along the Belt and Road.
Map out specific policies and measures to promote the Belt and Road, innovate application methods, improve supporting services, support strategic projects such as connectivity in infrastructure, development and utility of energy resources, construction of economic and trade industrial cooperation zone, and development of core industrial technology.
Adhere to coordination between oceanic and land economies, domestic and overseas markets, and enterprises and government; encourage domestic enterprises to invest and start a business in countries along the Belt and Road, and vice versa; strengthen the connection of the Belt and Road construction with national strategies, such as the coordinated development of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei Province and the Yangtze River Economic Belt; strengthen the initiative’s connection with the development programme for China’s western regions and programme of revitalising northeast China, the rise of central China, leading development of east China and the development and opening of border regions.
Promote the landing of major projects; implement demonstrative projects, to create more outcomes to benefit other countries.
Promote financial innovation, innovate internationalised financing, deepen cooperation in financial fields, create a multilayered financial platform, and establish a long-term, stable, sustainable and risk control financial system to serve construction of the Belt and Road.
Promote people-to-people bonds, popularise the “Silk Road” spirit, promote civilised communication, and emphasise cultural cooperation.
Promote outcomes brought by the Belt and Road Initiative, strengthen academic research, theoretical support and discourse;
Promote safety guarantee, improve mechanisms on safety risk assessment, monitoring and early-warning, and emergency disposal, detail working plan, and clarify responsibility of each department and enterprise.
Countries along the Belt and Road are abundant in various resources and complementary in the economy, with huge space and potential for cooperation. The initiative is advancing in the process, improving in development, and growing in cooperation.
Policy Coordination, Consensus
The Belt and Road spans Asia and Europe and the countries it traverses differ in national institutions, laws, regulations, history and traditions. Additionally, the initiative will face international integration and diverse development strategies of every country. Therefore, Xi Jinping listed “Policy Coordination” the first among five ways for cooperation along the route when referring to cooperation in the Silk Road Economic Belt.
The Silk Road Economic Belt was proposed in September 2013. Since then, China has established policy coordination with countries, mainly Central Asian countries, along the belt. Xi’s visits show that China is strengthening strategic development connections with countries and regions along the Belt and Road to promote mutual political trust and reach consensus in cooperation.
2016 was a better example, in which Xi visited a number of countries. In January, Xi Jinping paid state visits to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iran and signed Belt and Road Initiative MOUS (memorandums of understanding) with each. China and Saudi Arabia also signed MOUS on strengthening construction and cooperation of an online Silk Road. Xi also visited the Headquarters
of the League of Arab States. In March, Xi visited the Czech Republic where the two countries signed a cooperation planning MOU on the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative. They agreed to establish interconnectivity by making use of opening direct flights, promoting production capacity cooperation with the manufacturing industry as a basis and strengthening people-to-people bonds with traditional Chinese medicine as a bridge.
In June, Xi visited Serbia, Poland, and Uzbekistan and reached consensus with heads of the three countries on strengthening strategy connection. They agreed to construct Central and Eastern Europe an important transition for the Belt and Road Initiative to be integrated into the European economic circle through “16+1” cooperation; In October, Xi visited Cambodia and signed an MOU for planning and outlining construction of the Belt and Road; he visited Bangladesh and signed cooperation documents concerning production capacity, energy, information and communications, investment, disaster prevention and culture.
In November, Xi attended the 24th APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Lima, Peru and delivered a keynote speech. The core ideal of the Belt and Road was written into the Declaration of Leaders for the first time.
With bilateral and multilateral cooperation mechanisms, the initiative has been connected with development strategies of many countries along the Belt and Road. It was connected with the European Investment Plan, and China and CEE countries launched the cooperation on the Adriatic Sea, Baltic Sea and Black Sea, known as the “Three-port Cooperation.” The initiative has also been connected with Kazakhstan’s new economic policies of the “Bright Road,” Saudi Arabia's “Vision 2030,” Britain’s Northern Powerhouse Programme, Turkey’s Middle Corridor Plan, the Republic of Korea’s Asia-europe Cooperation Initiative, Australia’s Developing North Australia Plan, and Laos’ strategy to transforming into a land-connected state from a landlocked state.
Among these intense cooperations, the “Belt and Road” has emerged as a popular phrase. Johann N. Schneider-ammann, president of Switzerland, said the country would actively participate in the Belt and Road Initiative and construction of AIIB.
Alexander Grigoryevich Lukashenko, president of Belarus, was confident in constructing the China-belarus Industrial Park as an example of the Belt and Road project; Charles Michel, prime minister of Belgium, expressed wishes to expand cooperation with China in fields of justice, investment, innovation, aerospace, new energy, digital economy, and infrastructure under the framework of the “Belt and Road.” Heads of Russia, Australia, Italy, Turkey, Singapore, and Laos, who attended the 2016 G20 Hangzhou Summit, also showed great interest in connecting and cooperating.
Facility Interconnectivity, Support
Infrastructure has played a leading role in the Belt and Road construction, as interconnectivity of facilities has contributed to the
economic development of Belt and Road countries.
Under the Belt and Road's framework, the construction of many transnational infrastructure projects was launched with some put into operation. They include: China–lao, China–thailand, Hungary–serbia, Addis Ababa–djibouti, Jakarta –Bandung railways; the opening of the Deepwater Terminal of Colombo, Sri Lanka; the second phase of the Karakoram Highway (KKH) which links China and Pakistan; the Gwadar Port Expressway; China-myanmar Natural gas pipeline; and C and D routes of the Central Asian natural gas pipeline. By the end of 2016, infrastructure projects under construction within the Belt and Road covered 44 countries.
China is increasing support for overseas infrastructure projects. From October 2013 to June 30, 2016, China’s State-owned enterprises have participated in building more than 40 overseas infrastructure projects, including power stations and facilities to transmit electricity, oil and gas, involving 19 Belt and Road countries. In March 2016, the Global Energy Internet development Cooperation Organization, initiated by China, was founded in Beijing. It has established cooperation with the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, International Energy Agency, International Electrotechnical Commission, Argonne National Laboratory, and Stanford University to promote the Mongolia-china-republic of Korea-japan electricity network project.
Unimpeded Trade, the ‘Key’ to a Global Market
The Belt and Road Initiative emphasises interconnectivity and interconnected development, a “golden key” and “compass” for promoting global trade. On August 17, 2016, President Xi Jinping put forward eight requirements on promoting the initiative, including support for economic and industrial trade cooperation; in September, the 2016 G20 Hangzhou Summit upgraded the Trade Ministers Meeting as a mechanism. The summit approved the G20 Global Investment Guidance Principle, the first multilateral in-statement rule framework in the world.
Data directly showed mutual benefits and flourishing trade among countries along the route. In 2016, a total of 1,702 China Railway Express freight cars opened, a year-on-year increase of 109 percent. The freights have expanded to cover clothing, auto and accessories, grains, grape wine, coffee beans, timber, furniture, mechanical equipment, aside from electronic products such as cell phones and computers in the early stage. The Big Data Report of Trade Cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative 2017 released on March 17, 2017 showed that China’s total trade volume with Belt and Road countries was US$953.59 billion, accounting for 25.7 percent of China’s total foreign trade volume, 0.4 percent higher than 2015. Southeast Asia is China’s largest export destination and the largest source for import. Vietnam has become China’s No. 1 trade partner among the Belt and Road countries.
Financial Integration, Guarantee
Construction progress and efficiency of the Belt and Road also depends on funding support. “Financial Integration” offers fund guarantees for mutual benefit for Belt and Road countries.
On December 25, 2015, the AIIB, initiated by China and coconstructed by 57 countries, was founded after 800 days of preparation and began to offer service since January 2016. It was
the world's first multilateral financial institution initiated by China. It seeks to increase infrastructure investment in Asia and motivate various resources and funds from private sectors to invest in infrastructure through multiple channels, so as to promote regional interconnectivity and economic development. It will improve the investment environment of Asia’s developing countries (also members of the AIIB), create jobs, enhance mid- and long-term development potential, and rejuvenate economic growth for Asia and the world.
In 2016, the AIIB approved a total of US$1.73 billion loans which supported nine infrastructure projects in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Tajikistan, Indonesia, Myanmar, Azerbaijan and Oman. These projects are related to energy, transportation, and livelihood, with most of them jointly invested in by other international multilateral development institutions, such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). In March 2017, AIIB approved applications of another 13 countries and its total members reached 70, becoming the second largest multilateral development institutions after the World Bank. The number of its members surpasses the Asian Development Bank and EBRD, each with 67 members.
The AIIB, the New Development Bank, and the EBRD have formed a financing platform for the Belt and Road; and the “Silk Road Fund,” the “China-africa Development Fund,” and “China-cee Fund” have reserved funds for construction and opening a passage for rapid development. More importantly, the Belt and Road Initiative supported by funding has strengthened the functions of the international institutions.
At the 2016 G20 Hangzhou Summit, developing “green finance” became a common consensus; about 10 international financial institutions, including the World Bank, expressed to increase investment in infrastructure worldwide; on October 1, 2016, the renminbi was included in the IMF’S Special Drawing Rights basket of currencies, which accelerated its internationalisation and promoted an orderly flow of global funds. It deepened interconnectivity among countries and regions and proved beneficial to development.
People-to-people Bond, Social Foundation People-to-people bonds are the social foundation for Belt and Road Construction, also one of the three backbones in the layout of creating a new Belt and Road model for cooperation. It has always occupied an important position from the initiative’s blueprint to its implementation.
Founded in 2004, Confucius Institute is committed to carrying out teaching the Chinese language, spreading Chinese culture worldwide, and promoting China’s educational and cultural exchange and communications with other countries. Today, 134 Confucius Institutes and 127 Confucius classes for primary and middle school students have been established in 51 countries along the Belt and Road, with a total of 460,000 registered students in 2016. More than 8,000 cultural activities were held, benefitting 2.7 million people. Until December 2016, Chinese credit courses had been offered in 94 percent of the Confucius Institutes and Confucius classes; and Chinese as a major has been established in 93 universities and the major Chinese teaching were opened in 10 universities under the influence of Confucius Institutes. Teaching Chinese was included in the national educational system of another 20 countries along the route.
The “Understand China” series of cultural activities offer opportunities for people around the world to better understand China. The series gathers people based on bilateral relations and creating a friendly environment for Silk Road Economic Belt construction. In August 2016, the “Understand China” event was held in Kazakhstan’s Astana and Almaty, the first time the event was held in a Central Asian country. The event included a gala, the display of China’s intangible cultural heritage, and an exhibition about China’s intelligent manufacturing. In addition, the Chinese Pavilion, a book room, was founded at the National Library of Kazakhstan. An Almaty resident in Zaire who studied in China joined the event. She said, “The ancient Silk Road linked China and Central Asia, but the Silk Road Economic Belt brings opportunities for Kazakhs to learn Chinese. She said learning Chinese was rising in Kazakhstan and many young people chose to come to China to study. The intangible cultural heritage display was held in a university, meant to attract more young people.
It has been three years since the proposal of the Belt and Road Initiative. Today, trains loaded with timber imported from Russia stop at the Manchuria Railway Station; at the Erenhot railway freight yard, gantry cranes are unloading copper-concentrated powder imported from Mongolia. The six economic corridors: China-mongolia-russia, the New Eurasian Continental Bridge, China-central Asia-west Asia, China-indo-china Peninsula, China-pakistan, and Bangladesh-china-India-myanmar, have constituted a crucial platform for cooperation.
Data showed that China’s total export and import volume generated from economic and trade cooperation with countries along the Belt and Road was 6.3 trillion yuan in 2016, an increase of 0.6 percent. Foreign project contracts signed with countries along the route totalled US$126.0 billion, up by 36 percent. China’s direct investment in those countries was US$14.5 billion, accounting for 8.5 percent of China’s total foreign investment. China’s enterprises have established 56 economic and trade zones in more than 20 countries, with cumulative investment surpassing US$18.5 billion. These zones created taxes worth about US$ 1.1 billion, creating 180,000 jobs.
For three years, China has cooperated with Belt and Road countries and made use of bilateral and multilateral ways to promote regional and cross-regional cooperation. The Belt and Road Initiative is a programme with Chinese wisdom for achieving common prosperity and development. Plans and blueprints were completed with construction in full swing. The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road will write a new chapter in history with results delivered to every country along the Belt and Road.
The Persian Gulf seashore in Kuwait
The Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed, known as St. Basil's Cathedral, in Red Square, Moscow
The National Company of Oil and Natural Gas of Kazakhstan
The opening of the New Eurasian Continental Bridge international freight trains facilitates trade along the Belt and Road.