Ini­tia­tive is ‘gain­ing in­cred­i­ble mo­men­tum’

China Daily - - BELT AND ROAD FORUM FOR INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION - By AN­DREW MOODY and CHEN YINGQUN Con­tact the writ­ers at an­drew­moody@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive is the only cur­rent sig­nif­i­cant en­gine for global economic growth, the head of a lead­ing think tank says.

Helga Zepp-LaRouche, founder of the Schiller In­sti­tute, an in­ter­na­tional po­lit­i­cal and economic think tank in Washington, said the ini­tia­tive is al­ready a re­mark­able achieve­ment.

“This is a new per­spec­tive for the fu­ture. I think it is a new dy­namic that is re­ally gain­ing in­cred­i­ble mo­men­tum.

“The peo­ple who said the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive would col­lapse have been proved quickly wrong be­cause the sta­tis­tics now show it has be­come the new en­gine of growth for the world economy — in fact, the only one — and it will con­tinue to be like that.”

Zepp-LaRouche, who was speak­ing on the open­ing day of the Belt and Road Fo­rum for In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion in Beijing, said the ini­tia­tive now has a clear shape.

“In my mind it is pretty clear how it is de­vel­op­ing Helga Zepp-LaRouche, founder of the Schiller In­sti­tute, a Washington think tank be­cause China has had an un­be­liev­able economic mir­a­cle in the last 30 years, and in a cer­tain sense what the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive does is al­low China to ex­port that economic mir­a­cle.”

The Ger­man-born Zepp-LaRouche, 68, said greater con­nec­tiv­ity would aid de­vel­op­ment in some of the world’s most trou­bled ar­eas, par­tic­u­larly in the Mid­dle East.

“The ini­tia­tive has changed the dy­namic around many of the cri­sis spots al­ready. Hope­fully, we can en­ter a new era of mankind so we can stop hav­ing sense­less wars with peo­ple suf­fer­ing.”

Zepp-LaRouche said her own in­sti­tute, founded in 1984, was an early ad­vo­cate of the un­der­ly­ing ideas of the Belt and Road.

Where China could make a dif­fer­ence is in its com­mit­ment to high-speed rail, she said.

“China has be­come a leader in fast-train build­ing. By 2020 it will have 40,000 kilo­me­ters of fast rail, com­pared to none at all in the United States. If the United States wanted to do the same thing with much of its in­fra­struc­ture in a ter­ri­ble con­di­tion, it would have to ask the Chi­nese for their ex­per­tise.”

She hoped the US would even­tu­ally join in and fully sup­port the ini­tia­tive.

“I think there were pos­i­tive signs of this when Pres­i­dent Xi met with Pres­i­dent Trump in his Mar-a-Lago pri­vate res­i­dence in Florida. There has been good com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the two, and while Mr Trump may not be at the fo­rum, an early trip is planned to China.”

De­nis De­poux, Asia deputy pres­i­dent and se­nior part­ner of Roland Berger, a global con­sul­tancy, said the ini­tia­tive could also be a boon to Euro­pean com­pa­nies.

“Many of the Euro­pean in­fra­struc­ture, in­dus­try equip­ment and ser­vices giants have a chance to lever­age their ex­pe­ri­ence in th­ese re­gions, part­ner with their Chi­nese coun­ter­parts and de­velop a new, more in­clu­sive, joint de­vel­op­ment ap­proach.”

The Belt and Road could re­move many of the ma­jor bar­ri­ers to de­vel­op­ment in many parts of the world, he said.

“Fi­nanc­ing chal­lenges, and first and fore­most in­suf­fi­cient in­fra­struc­ture, have hin­dered de­vel­op­ment. China’s ini­tia­tive brings struc­ture, fi­nanc­ing and po­lit­i­cal im­pe­tus, while the strong fo­cus on in­fra­struc­ture will swiftly en­able eas­ier trade and in­vest­ment.”

China has had an un­be­liev­able economic mir­a­cle in the last 30 years, and in a cer­tain sense what the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive does is al­low China to ex­port that economic mir­a­cle.”

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