Ini­tia­tive a prod­uct of Chi­nese wis­dom

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI -

The Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, a grand transna­tional pro­ject com­pris­ing the Silk Road Eco­nomic Belt and 21st Cen­tu­ryMar­itime Silk Road, is the latest ex­am­ple of China’s chang­ing role in glob­al­iza­tion— from a par­tic­i­pa­tor to a leader.

Char­ac­ter­ized by re­ju­ve­na­tion, in­clu­sive­ness and in­no­va­tion, the ini­tia­tive is a prod­uct of Chi­nese wis­dom, which aims to make China an im­por­tant part of a more in­clu­sive glob­al­iza­tion process, in a bid to share the ad­van­tages of mod­ern­iza­tion with coun­tries along the routes. Un­like Western colo­nial­ism and im­pe­ri­al­ism, the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive has been de­signed to strengthen the es­tab­lished mul­ti­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tive part­ner­ships be­tween China and more than 60 other coun­tries along the routes that run through Asia, Europe and Africa.

It is an all-round open ini­tia­tive, which once re­al­ized, will ben­e­fit not only coun­tries and re­gions along the routes but also those be­yond, and fa­cil­i­tate a new­mode of multi­na­tional in­te­gra­tion. As such, the less-de­vel­oped ar­eas in­North­west China, such as Gansu province, will get greater sup­port to en­ter the mar­kets in the coun­try’s coastal re­gion and even coun­tries along the Silk Road Eco­nomic Belt. In­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions that show in­ter­est in tak­ing part in the two projects are welcome to in­crease eco­nomic in­ter­ac­tions among gov­ern­ments, en­ter­prises and or­di­nary peo­ple along the routes.

On the one hand, the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive is ex­pected to im­prove in­ter­con­nec­tiv­ity across the routes, with spe­cial fo­cus on in­fra­struc­ture fa­cil­i­ties, rang­ing from trans­porta­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion to lo­gis­tics. On the other, the ini­tia­tive should help Chi­nese man­u­fac­tur­ers en­joy greater say in global trade, and prompt them to ven­ture into the global mar­ket with high-end prod­ucts, in­stead of cheap knock­offs.

Be­sides, Bei­jing has kept an open mind, as op­posed to parochial men­tal­ity, about the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the mas­sive ini­tia­tive. Its un­wa­ver­ing ad­her­ence to the prin­ci­ple of non-in­ter­fer­ence in other coun­tries’ in­ter­nal af­fairs is likely to guide it through the dan­gers of in­ter­est-ori­ented clashes. With its do­mes­tic in­ter­con­nec­tiv­ity net­work al­most com­plete, China will make more ef­forts to help build an in­clu­sive Europe-Asia-Africa com­mu­nity, in which all re­gional economies can en­joy the ben­e­fits of re­cip­ro­cal ex­change of po­lit­i­cal sup­port, trade and in­vest­ment. Need­less to say, the ini­tia­tive’s suc­cess doesn’t de­pend on one coun­try’s ef­forts or suc­cess alone.

For starters, gov­ern­ments should shelve their dif­fer­ences and seek more com­mon ground, and hold di­a­logues and ne­go­ti­a­tions to elim­i­nate the po­lit­i­cal bar­ri­ers that pre­vent them from co­op­er­at­ing with each other. They also have to en­hance fa­cil­i­ty­based in­ter­con­nec­tiv­ity, as part of in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ment such as trans­port and cross-bor­der com­mu­ni­ca­tion net­works, and power plants.

In par­tic­u­lar, pri­or­ity should be ac­corded to the man­age­ment and pro­tec­tion of key routes, so that a stan­dard­ized mech­a­nism of road trans­port can im­prove cross-coun­try de­liv­ery ser­vices. Also, pivot har­bors and air­ports in all coun­tries con­cerned should be en­cour­aged to work to­gether to sup­port in­land trans­porta­tion. And transna­tional pipe­lines, as well as elec­tric­ity and com­mu­ni­ca­tion net­works based on un­der-

This is an abridged ver­sion of an ar­ti­cle first pub­lished in Study Times on Aug 27. sea ca­bles and satel­lites, should be made to play a big­ger role in im­prov­ing re­gional in­ter­con­nec­tiv­ity.

To make trade and in­vest­ment ex­changes with other economies along the routes more con­ve­nient, Bei­jing has to lift bar­ri­ers uni­lat­er­ally, and take mea­sures to en­sure the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the deals agreed to pro­tect mul­ti­lat­eral trade and in­vestors’ le­gal in­ter­ests. The sign­ing of more high-level free trade agree­ments, like the one be­tween China and Aus­tralia, could also help solve the in­ter­con­nec­tiv­ity prob­lem.

As a ma­jor move for the suc­cess of the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, flow of cap­i­tal should in­cur lower costs and must be safer. A fur­ther boost could come from more par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­tries ex­pand­ing their cur­rency set­tle­ment to gen­eral trade. More im­por­tantly, in­creased peo­ple-to-peo­ple ex­changes in the fields of ed­u­ca­tion and tourism can cre­ate and deepen a shared cul­tural iden­tity be­tween China and its part­ner coun­tries.

The au­thor is a pro­fes­sor of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions at Ren­min Univer­sity of China.

MA XUEJING / CHINA DAILY

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