Re­gional in­ter­gra­tion

Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive devel­op­ment has ex­ceeded ex­pec­ta­tions

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By TANG YUE in Xi’an tangyue@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The devel­op­ment of the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive has ex­ceeded ex­pec­ta­tions, and China is more de­ter­mined to strengthen the ini­tia­tive, China’s top pub­lic­ity of­fi­cial said on Mon­day.

“Since the pro­posal of the ini­tia­tive in 2013, the devel­op­ment has been fast and com­pre­hen­sive. The speed and the achieve­ment are beyond ex­pec­ta­tions,” Liu Qibao, a mem­ber of the Po­lit­i­cal Bureau of the Com­mu­nist Party of China Cen­tral Com­mit­tee and head of the com­mit­tee’s pub­lic­ity depart­ment, said at the open­ing of the In­ter­na­tional Sem­i­nar on the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive in Xi’an, Shaanxi province.

The ini­tia­tive, pro­posed by Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping in au­tumn 2013 dur­ing his vis­its to Cen­tral and South­east Asia, aims to pro­mote closer eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion along the route and make global eco­nomic gov­er­nance more open.

By the end of June, more than 30 coun­tries along the Belt and Road routes had signed co­op­er­a­tion agree­ments with China. Bei­jing is also work­ing with more than 20 coun­tries on ca­pac­i­ty­build­ing projects in the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by Ren­min Univer­sity of China that was re­leased at the sem­i­nar.

“The Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive is not a 21st-cen­tury Mar­shall Plan,” said Charles Onunaiju, direc­tor of the Cen­tre for China Stud­ies in Nige­ria, re­fer­ring to the United States’ post-World War II eco­nomic sup­port for re­build­ing Western Europe.

“The Belt and Road Ini­tia- tive is not solely led by China and does not serve its own in­ter­ests. In­stead, it has al­ways been an open and in­clu­sive process.”

Liu said that af­ter three years, the frame­work of the ini­tia­tive is clear and China will work on more de­tailed and sus­tain­able co­op­er­a­tion.

Liu Wei, pres­i­dent of Ren­min Univer­sity of China and a pro­fes­sor of eco­nom­ics, added that a more elab­o­rate def­i­ni­tion of the ini­tia­tive will help fur­ther strengthen the com­mu­nity.

“Mean­while, a few suc­cess­ful projects in the ini­tial stage are very cru­cial. Coun­tries will be more com­mit­ted to the ini­tia­tive af­ter they ben­e­fit from the pro­grams.”

Among the ma­jor achieve­ments, the Asian In­fra­struc­ture In­vest­ment Bank was founded in De­cem­ber, with its head­quar­ters in Bei­jing and au­tho­rized cap­i­tal of $100 bil­lion. It al­ready has ap­proved in­vest­ment of $509 mil­lion for its first four projects in Bangladesh, In­done­sia, Pak­istan and Ta­jik­istan.

In ad­di­tion to the eco­nomic and fi­nan­cial co­op­er­a­tion, Liu Qibao also em­pha­sized the im­por­tance of cul­tural ex­changes with par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­tries.

He said China ex­pects to con­tinue ex­pand­ing co­op­er­a­tion in cul­ture, tourism, me­dia, sports and ar­chae­ol­ogy.

For ex­am­ple, the Chi­nese cen­tral gov­ern­ment now of­fers about 10,000 gov­ern­ment schol­ar­ships a year to stu­dents in coun­tries along the route, ac­cord­ing to the Ren­min Univer­sity re­port.

JIANG DONG / CHINA DAILY

Vis­i­tors take pho­tos on Mon­day of one of the relics of an­cient civ­i­liza­tions along the Silk Road on dis­play in Bei­jing’s Badachu Park.

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