Europe urged to ‘grasp the chance of Belt and Road’

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - By FU JING in Paris fu­jing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

French President Em­manuel Macron has urged Europe to “grasp the chance the China-pro­posed Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive” presents to bet­ter achieve con­nec­tiv­ity and com­mon pros­per­ity in Eura­sia, said for­mer French prime min­is­ter Jean-Pierre Raf­farin.

On Fri­day, Raf­farin spoke of Macron’s com­mit­ment at a con­fer­ence in Paris or­ga­nized by the Boao Fo­rum for Asia in re­sponse to Bei­jing’s Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive Fo­rum for In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion in May, to which President Xi Jin­ping in­vited up to 30 state lead­ers.

“President Macron is highly aware of the sig­nif­i­cance of the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive and has been urg­ing Europe to grasp the chance to co­op­er­ate with China”, Raf­farin said.

Macron was sched­uled to meet late on Fri­day the Chi­nese del­e­ga­tion in Paris led by for­mer vice-pre­mier Zeng Peiyan, chair­man of the China Cen­ter for In­ter­na­tional Eco­nomic Ex­changes and vice-chair­man of the board of di­rec­tors of the Boao Fo­rum for Asia.

Raf­farin con­firmed the Euro­pean Union has great in­ter­est in the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive.

Now, four years af­ter it was pro­posed by President Xi Jin­ping, it is high time, he said, for China and the Euro­pean Union to ex­pand co­op­er­a­tion in in­fra­struc­ture con­struc­tion, fi­nance, in­vest­ment and peo­ple-to-peo­ple ex­changes un­der the um­brella of the pro­posal.

Zeng, in his key­note speech at the Paris con­fer­ence, also called for close co­op­er­a­tion be­tween China and Europe.

“East Asia and West­ern Europe are two driv­ing forces of global de­vel­op­ment, and if they strengthen co­op­er­a­tion, com­mon pros­per­ity of de­vel­op­ment of Eura­sia is achiev­able,” Zeng said.

Zeng said that Xi de­vised the ini­tia­tive as a new driv­ing force for the global econ­omy af­ter the 2008-09 global fi­nan­cial cri­sis, be­cause global eco­nomic growth re­mains slow, the wealth gap is still widen­ing and re­gional con­flicts re­main ram­pant.

“Many coun­tries and re­gions be­tween West­ern Europe and East Asia ur­gently need to achieve de­vel­op­ment and peace and their peo­ple de­sire a bet­ter life,” said Zeng. “In­creased co­op­er­a­tion be­tween China and EU can help re­move the chal­lenges fac­ing the coun­tries and re­gions.”

Ger­ard Larcher, president of the French Se­nate, also rec­om­mended Euro­pean in­volve­ment in the Belt and Road.

“This is a vi­sion­ary global pro­posal, and I too urge Euro­pean coun­tries to of­fer their own de­vel­op­ment plans to match this pro­posal,” Larcher said.

Larcher said China and France should ex­plore the po­ten­tial for im­prov­ing in­fra­struc­ture in Africa.

Echo­ing Larcher’s pro­posal, Shao Gang, deputy gen­eral man­ager of China Tiesiju Civil En­gi­neer­ing Group, part of China Rail­way Con­struc­tion Corp, said he has spo­ken with com­pa­nies in France and Por­tu­gal to ex­plore part­ner­ships in Africa.

Shao said the Belt and Road has of­fered chances to “bring com­peti­tors to­gether”.

He sug­gested that Chi­nese and Euro­pean civil en­gi­neer­ing com­pa­nies re­shape the busi­ness mod­els in Africa.

“I think very soon we can pool our re­sources to help im­prove the in­fras­truc­tural sit­u­a­tion in Africa,” Shao said.

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