lead­ers to at­tend B&R fo­rum

Aung San Suu Kyi will at­tend in­ter­na­tional fo­rum on the One Belt One Road ini­tia­tive

Mizzima Business Weekly - - CONTENTS - Yang Sheng

Lead­ers of 28 coun­tries will at­tend the Belt and Road (B&R) Fo­rum for In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion this month, another ma­jor “home diplo­macy” event for China af­ter the Hangzhou G20 Sum­mit in 2016.

The B&R Fo­rum for In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion will be held on May 14 and 15 in Bei­jing, and Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping is set to at­tend the open­ing cer­e­mony and host a round ta­ble sum­mit of the lead­ers, Chi­nese For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Yi said, the Xin­hua News Agency re­ported.

“Since the start of the B&R ini­tia­tive in 2013, the ini­tia­tive has un­der­gone three years’ devel­op­ment, so we are at the key stage to com­pre­hen­sively pro­mote it, and this is the main rea­son why China is hold­ing the fo­rum,” said Lin Min­wang, a pro­fes­sor at the In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies of Fu­dan Univer­sity.

At the in­vi­ta­tion of Xi, 28 heads of state and gov­ern­ment lead­ers will at­tend the fo­rum, in­clud­ing Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, In­done­sian Pres­i­dent Joko Wi­dodo, Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan, Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte, Myan­mar State Coun­selor Aung San Suu Kyi, Pak­istani Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif, Cam­bo­dian Prime Min­is­ter Hun Sen, and Ital­ian Prime Min­is­ter Paolo Gen­tiloni. In at­ten­dance will be aca­demics, en­trepreneurs and fi­nance and me­dia in­dus­try ex­perts from 110 coun­tries, and other guests in­clude nine vice prime min­is­ters, seven for­eign min­is­ters and 190 min­is­te­rial-level of­fi­cials, and 89 heads and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from 61 in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions. The to­tal num­ber of at­ten­dees will sur­pass 1,200.

This is another large-scale “home diplo­macy” event for China af­ter the Bei­jing Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion meet­ing in 2014 and the Hangzhou G20 Sum­mit in 2016, Wang Yi said.

Although ma­jor Western lead­ers, ex­cept for Italy, will not at­tend, it will not af­fect the in­flu­ence of the fo­rum be­cause the B&R ini­tia­tive is in­tended to boost de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, help­ing them to achieve mod­ern­iza­tion, in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion, and bet­ter par­tic­i­pate in glob­al­iza­tion, said Wang Yi­wei, se­nior re­search fel­low of the Chongyang In­sti­tute for Fi­nan­cial Stud­ies at the Ren­min Univer­sity of China.

In May, there are also some im­por­tant in­ter­na­tional events, such as a NATO Sum­mit in Brussels, Bel­gium and the G7 Sum­mit in Taormina, Italy, so the over­lap­ping tim­ing is also a rea­son why ma­jor Western lead­ers can­not at­tend the fo­rum, Wang Yi­wei added.

In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi will not at­tend the fo­rum. In­dia has some con­cerns about the B&R ini­tia­tive. For in­stance, the China-Pak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor will go through Kash­mir, a re­gion dis­puted be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan, so it makes In­dia feel that the B&R ini­tia­tive does not re­spect its sovereignty, Lin said.

In­dian elites also con­sider China’s in­vi­ta­tion to co­op­er­ate in the B&R ini­tia­tive presents New Delhi with a dilemma: on one hand it wants to co­op­er­ate with China on mar­itime is­sues, but on the other hand, it needs to re­strain China’s in­flu­ence in the In­dian Ocean, Lin noted.

The B&R ini­tia­tive is in­tended to boost de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, help­ing them to achieve mod­ern­iza­tion, in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion, and bet­ter par­tic­i­pate in glob­al­iza­tion, said Wang Yi­wei,

Open to all

The B&R ini­tia­tive does not have ge­o­graphic bound­aries, be­cause es­sen­tially it is an ini­tia­tive of in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion, and it could and should be open to ev­ery mem­ber among the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, Wang Yi said.

In the past, peo­ple thought the B&R ini­tia­tive’s goal was to link Asia and Europe, and so it was not aimed at the rest of the world. This is wrong, said Jiang Shixue, a pro­fes­sor at Shang­hai Univer­sity and deputy di­rec­tor of the In­sti­tute for Euro­pean Stud­ies at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences. This time we see that lead­ers from Latin Amer­i­can and African coun­tries like Ar­gentina, Chile, Kenya and Ethiopia will at­tend the fo­rum, so this proves that the B&R ini­tia­tive has no ge­o­graphic bound­aries. It wel­comes ev­ery coun­try’s par­tic­i­pa­tion and it will be wel­comed by coun­tries in any con­ti­nent, Jiang stressed.

The es­sen­tial el­e­ments are “com­mu­ni­ca­tion on poli­cies, con­nec­tion via in­fra­struc­ture, fluid trade, fluid fi­nanc­ing and fluid peo­ple-to-peo­ple ex­changes,” Jiang said, adding that any in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion could be cov­ered by the ini­tia­tive as long as it fits with these el­e­ments, so there is no need to use ge­o­graphic bound­aries to limit in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion.

“This ini­tia­tive is not a ‘mem­bers-only club’ but a ‘cir­cle of friends’ … we are all equal part­ners as long as we all agree to the spirit of the Silk Road. Dif­fer­ent coun­tries can use their own way to join this ini­tia­tive and share the ben­e­fits from the devel­op­ment,” Wang Yi said.

Myan­mar State Coun­sel­lor Aung San Suu Kyi will be one of the world lead­ers at­tend­ing the game-chang­ing meet­ing in Bei­jing. Photo: EPA

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