Swiss of­fi­cial says Belt, Road inspires big plans

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By LUO WEITENG in Hong Kong and CHEN WEIHUA in Wash­ing­ton Con­tact the writ­ers at sophia@chi­nadai­lyhk.com and chen­wei­hua@ chi­nadai­lyusa.com

The im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive is ex­pected to get an­other boost as se­nior of­fi­cials of Switzer­land, a lead­ing world fi­nan­cial cen­ter, and the World Bank vowed to strengthen co­op­er­a­tion with China on the mas­sive project.

Switzer­land is look­ing to sharpen its edge as a fi­nan­cial cen­ter with a proac­tive role in the ini­tia­tive, said Swiss Fi­nance Min­is­ter Ueli Mau­rer.

“The ini­tia­tive stands as one of the most im­por­tant in­fra­struc­ture projects across the world, not for me but for my grand­chil­dren,” said Mau­rer.

He said he be­lieved Switzer­land has what it takes to sup­port the huge rib­bon of newly de­vel­oped in­fra­struc­ture that is well un­der­way with the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive.

Such a mas­sive trade and in­fra­struc­ture project, which will take a gen­er­a­tion to come true and yield its full ben­e­fits, “re­ally drives us to aim high and plan big, with a long-term vi­sion at least 20 or 30 years ahead”, he said.

Mau­rer made the re­marks on Wed­nes­day while lead­ing a high-level Swiss del­e­ga­tion with ma­jor fig­ures from the coun­try’s flag­ship fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions on a visit to Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Sin­ga­pore and Hong Kong.

“Switzer­land is al­ways well­po­si­tioned to part­ner with China. … With so many coun- tries com­ing to China seek­ing col­lab­o­ra­tions, how can we af­ford to be left be­hind?” Mau­rer said.

In a sign of the coun­try’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to get on board, Pres­i­dent of the Swiss Fed­era- tion Doris Leuthard has con­firmed that she will at­tend the Belt and Road Fo­rum for In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion in Beijing on May 14 and 15.

At least 28 heads of state and gov­ern­ment will at­tend the fo­rum, the high­est-pro­file in­ter­na­tional meet­ing on the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive since Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping pro­posed it in 2013.

Mean­while, Jim Yong Kim, pres­i­dent of the World Bank, also praised the ini­tia­tive on Thurs­day dur­ing a news con­fer­ence of the 2017 IMF/World Bank an­nual spring meet­ing in Wash­ing­ton, DC.

Kim said the World Bank is work­ing closely with the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment on the ini­tia­tive and will con­tinue to do so.

“The ini­tia­tive is an ex­tremely im­por­tant one for the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment and also for us,” said Kim, who also plans to at­tend the Belt and Road fo­rum in May.

“Not only are we en­gaged, for ex­am­ple, in a ma­jor study with China right now on the driv­ers of China’s fu­ture eco­nomic growth, but we’re part­ner­ing with the AIIB (Asian In­fra­struc­ture In­vest­ment Bank) al­ready,” he said.

“Our en­gage­ment both with the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment and with Chi­nese ef­forts at devel­op­ment, both through their own bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion, but also through AIIB, will only grow go­ing into the fu­ture,” said Kim.

Ueli Mau­rer, Swiss fi­nance min­is­ter With so many coun­tries com­ing to China seek­ing col­lab­o­ra­tions, how can we af­ford to be left be­hind?”

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