Belt and Road Initiative delivers benefits beyond its borders

Belt & Road
Though originating in China, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) delivers benefits well beyond its borders and enjoys great prospects worldwide.

XinhuaUpdated: May 25, 2018

Though originating in China, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) delivers benefits well beyond its borders and enjoys great prospects worldwide, Zhang Ming, head of the mission of the People's Republic of China to the EU, said Wednesday.

Since the first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation was held in Beijing last May, plenty of progress has been made in implementing projects, said the ambassador in a keynote speech delivered at the China-EU Dialogue on the Belt And Road Initiative.

"China's trade with countries along the Belt and Road has exceeded US$4 trillion and stock investment is over 60 billion U.S. dollars. Forty-three countries along the routes have direct flights with China, and a total of 7,600 trips have been made by the freight trains between China and Europe," said Zhang.

"Chinese companies have built 75 economic and trade cooperation zones in over 20 Belt and Road countries, creating more than 2 billion U.S. dollars of tax revenues and over 200,000 jobs for the host countries," he noted.

As to China-Europe cooperation on the initiative, the ambassador said he is optimistic about its future.

"We have already achieved a good start. The BRI and Europe's development strategies are well aligned. Governments of 11 EU member states have signed cooperation documents with China. A number of projects on infrastructure, logistics, e-commerce and finance are well underway," he noted.

In Serbia, a Chinese enterprise bought a troubled steel mill and turned it around in less than a year. In Greece, the Port of Piraeus has regained its position as one of the largest European ports. In Britain, China is partnering with France to build a nuclear power plant, a stellar example of multi-party cooperation on the BRI.

"Last year alone, the China-Europe express cargo trains made 3,673 trips, more than the total number combined during the previous six years, reaching 36 European cities in 13 countries," said the ambassador, making a three-pronged proposal for future cooperation.

"First, to inject more certainty into global cooperation. The BRI could offer a solid platform for cooperation to boost the global economy and to add a sense of certainty to the global landscape. The BRI aims to promote peace, development and stability. It could contribute to a more balanced development across Europe, thereby facilitating the European integration process rather than holding it back," said Zhang.

He called on the two sides to promote cooperation with an open mind and in a rules-based manner.

"Countries at different levels of development may have different needs and approaches to cooperation. The best practice takes into account and fits well with the actual circumstances. We need to step up exchanges to find a pattern of cooperation that suits local conditions, serves long-term interests and complies with the rules," Zhang said.

Statistics show that EU investment in China only accounts for 4 percent of its total overseas investment, and the Chinese investment in the EU only takes up 2 percent of FDI flows into the bloc.

"This is not commensurate with the size of our economy," Zhang said. "We need to further implement the China-EU 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation, and advance negotiations on a bilateral investment agreement as a priority task. Regarding the BRI, we could work together to explore a third market, and harness our respective strengths to open up more possibilities," he told the audience.

Proposed in 2013, the initiative aims to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road routes. It comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.