Belt, Road Ini­tia­tive ush­ers in fu­ture growth for China, world

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By BAO DAOZU

A world-renowned econ­o­mist from the United King­dom said he ex­pects the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, pro­posed by Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, will play an in­creas­ingly im­por­tant role in global trade, which has been buf­feted by grow­ing pro­tec­tion­ism and uni­lat­er­al­ism.

“The BRI is pos­si­bly the most im­por­tant thing for the fu­ture of world trade,” said Jim O’Neill, who had coined the acro­nym BRIC (now BRICS) for the group of emerg­ing economies.

O’Neill, for­mer Bri­tish com­mer­cial sec­re­tary to the Trea­sury, listed the BRI as one of the pri­or­i­ties for China in com­ing years for the coun­try’s new round of re­form and open­ing-up. O’Neill spoke on Thurs­day in Lon­don at the fifth edi­tion of Vi­sion China, an event with the theme “40 Years On — China and the World”, hosted by China Daily.

O’Neill has urged China to en­cour­age more coun­tries to “guide” the ini­tia­tive, which is in the same vein as the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment’s state­ments ad­vo­cat­ing “joint ef­forts” from var­i­ous global play­ers to en­rich the colos­sal con­nec­tiv­ity pro­ject.

To con­tinue its suc­cess, O’Neill said, China needs to con­tinue to in­crease the share of con­sump­tion in its eco­nomic out­put, con­trol pol­lu­tion and pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment, open its fi­nan­cial sec­tor wider and be­come bolder in re­form­ing the house­hold reg­is­tra­tion — hukou — sys­tem.

Liu Xiaom­ing, Chi­nese am­bas­sador to the United King­dom, called the BRI one of the “three big op­por­tuni- ties” China will bring to the world as a re­sult of its firm com­mit­ment to the new round of re­form and openingup.

In Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber of 2013, when Xi made over­seas vis­its in Asia, he pro­posed the BRI as a way to boost con­nec­tiv­ity among coun­tries.

Liu added that China will con­tin­u­ously drive global growth and ex­pand mar­ket scale.

More re­form and openingup pack­ages are ex­pected to be an­nounced this year when China cel­e­brates the 40th an­niver­sary of re­form and open­ing-up.

Other speak­ers at the event in­cluded Fu Xiaolan, pro­fes­sor of tech­nol­ogy and in­ter­na­tional devel­op­ment, and founder of the Tech­nol­ogy and Man­age­ment Cen­tre for Devel­op­ment at Ox­ford Univer­sity; Nikhil Rathi, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Lon­don Stock Ex­change Plc; and Martin Jacques, au­thor of the in­ter­na­tional best-seller When China Rules the World.

The guests shared their thoughts and ob­ser­va­tions on the achieve­ments of China’s re­form and open­ing-up dur­ing the past 40 years.

The event drew about 200 guests, in­clud­ing Neil Dav­i­son, for­mer ad­vo­cate gen­eral for Scot­land, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Bri­tish gov­ern­ment de­part­ments, the me­dia, think tanks, in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions and transna­tional cor­po­ra­tions as well as busi­ness­peo­ple and Chi­nese em­bassy of­fi­cials.

Fol­low­ers of China Daily’s so­cial me­dia plat­forms world­wide also were able to par­tic­i­pate in brain­storm­ing el­e­ments of the dis­cus­sion.

Speak­ing at the Lon­don event, China Daily Pub­lisher and Edi­tor-in-Chief Zhou Shuchun said Pres­i­dent Xi has stated that China will re­main com­mit­ted to ad­vanc­ing re­form in all re­spects, and the Chi­nese peo­ple will see the re­form through.

“We are hon­ored to have with us five heavy­weight guests ... to of­fer their thoughts on where China and the world are head­ing,” Zhou said.

“We are con­vinced that fur­ther ef­forts by China to re­form and open-up, in its con­tin­ued ‘sec­ond revo­lu­tion’, will not only usher in a new era of devel­op­ment for the coun­try, but also bring peace, progress and pros­per­ity to the world,” he said.

Fu said in­no­va­tion will be the most im­por­tant driver of how China changes in the fu­ture. It will drive the trans­for­ma­tion of the Chi­nese devel­op­ment model, en­hance the qual­ity of growth, and also help other coun­tries up­grade through knowl­edge trans­fers and the spillover ef­fects of trade and for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment.

“As the US re­treats from its post-glob­al­iza­tion lead­er­ship role, China has to come for­ward, be it will­ing or not will­ing, ready or not fully ready,” she said. “Stronger in­no­va­tion ca­pac­ity will make China more ca­pa­ble and more con­fi­dent to play a more im­por­tant role.”

Rathi said China is a vast and sig­nif­i­cantly in­creas­ing mar­ket, adding that in­no­va­tive fi­nanc­ing tools could help fa­cil­i­tate im­ple­men­ta­tion of the BRI.

“Green fi­nance is not just a com­mer­cial op­por­tu­nity, it is an ex­is­ten­tial is­sue — you only need to look at the sta­tis­tics around the im­pact on health, from pol­lu­tion and ... cli­mate change, and China has cho­sen to play a lead­er­ship role on this agenda,” Rathi said.

Rathi said the world is see­ing progress through the in­ter­na­tion­al­iza­tion of the ren­minbi. “Just in the last six weeks we have had 14 RMB bonds on our mar­ket in Lon­don from all over the world,” Rathi said. “It is not just Chi­nese in­sti­tu­tions that are com­ing, it’s Aus­tralian, Cana­dian and Euro­pean — a range of in­sti­tu­tions us­ing the cur­rency as an as­set class of its own.”

Jacques also shared his ob­ser­va­tions on the role that China’s re­form and open­ing-up plays in global devel­op­ment, say­ing China’s rapid growth since 1978 has not only cre­ated an eco­nomic mir­a­cle for China but also pro­vided a new devel­op­ment model for other emerg­ing economies to look to.

“China is go­ing to be a very dif­fer­ent kind of great power,” he said. “The Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive is a pow­er­ful ex­am­ple of China try­ing to find a new devel­op­ment model. This no­tion is very dif­fer­ent from West­ern colo­nial think­ing.”

He said China’s rise has given the de­vel­op­ing world an al­ter­na­tive place to look, for devel­op­ment and for in­spi­ra­tion.

“The rise of China has opened up en­tirely new pos­si­bil­i­ties for the 85 per­cent of the world’s pop­u­la­tion that lives in the de­vel­op­ing world,” Jacques said.

Ru­pert Li, global chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer and se­nior part­ner of the King & Wood Mallesons

law firm, said: “China has come a long way. While our achieve­ments are com­mend­able, many at­trib­uted our suc­cess to a host of rea­sons. China’s nascent rule of law has been a prin­ci­pal fac­tor in en­sur­ing the suc­cess” of its open­ing-up pol­icy.

King & Wood Mallesons was China Daily’s part­ner for the Lon­don event.

Li said China com­mands the best record in in­vest­ment pro­tec­tion of for­eign in­vestors com­pared to other de­vel­op­ing coun­tries in gen­eral and BRICS coun­tries in par­tic­u­lar.

“With­out the re­spect for the spirit of con­tract­ing, China couldn’t have been a ma­jor trad­ing part­ner to a host of coun­tries,” Li said.

China Daily, a me­dia or­ga­ni­za­tion that has ef­fec­tively en­tered the in­ter­na­tional main­stream mar­ket, of­fi­cially un­veiled Vi­sion China early this year, seek­ing to make full use of its in­ter­na­tional, all-me­dia, mul­ti­lin­gual and mul­ti­plat­form ad­van­tages, to al­low China’s voice to be bet­ter heard by an in­ter­na­tional au­di­ence through in­no­va­tive nar­ra­tive speeches.

By se­lect­ing Chi­nese topics of global sig­nif­i­cance and invit­ing world-class opin­ion lead­ers to de­bate the is­sues face-to-face, each event re­sponds to global con­cerns about China’s ma­jor talk­ing points and sig­nif­i­cant propo­si­tions from global per­spec­tives.

Vi­sion China has suc­cess­fully held ses­sions in Beijing (twice), Hangzhou and Jo­han­nes­burg us­ing themes that fo­cus on Chi­nese topics with global value.

ZOU HONG / CHINA DAILY

Jim O’Neill, chair­man of Chatham House and for­mer Bri­tish com­mer­cial sec­re­tary to the Trea­sury, par­tic­i­pates in a Q&A pe­riod af­ter his talk at the fifth ses­sion of Vi­sion China, hosted by China Daily in Lon­don on Thurs­day.

ZOU HONG / CHINA DAILY

The fifth Vi­sion China event, themed “40 Years On: China and the World”, is held by China Daily on Thurs­day at the pic­turesque One Great Ge­orge Street in cen­tral Lon­don.

ZOU HONG / CHINA DAILY

Zhou Shuchun (left), pub­lisher and edi­tor-in-chief of China Daily, gives a portrait sketch to Am­bas­sador Liu Xiaom­ing as other speak­ers at the China Vi­sion event in Lon­don look on.

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