The New Today

Commentary

10 Years on, the Belt and Road Initiative is not only fruitful, but also promising

As the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, to be held later this year in China, is drawing close, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), put forth by President Xi Jinping in September 2013, again earns global attention. This year marks the 10th anniversary of joint construction of the BRI.

Since its initiation, with the participation and joint efforts of all parties, this important Initiative has progressed with strong vigour and vitality, and benefited the world. China and the cooperation partners have upheld the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, stayed committed to the vision of open, green and clean cooperation, and pursued the goal of high-standard, people-centered and sustainable development, so as to explore new opportunities, deepen cooperation, and inject growth impetus to the world.

To date, the BRI has become one of the most popular international public good and platforms that honours the spirit of win-win cooperation.

Notwithstanding the comprehensiveness of the BRI, its achievements over the past 10 years is generally three-fold:

First, it boosted the development of cooperation partners and promoted the well-being of the people. Eyeing common prosperity for all human beings, the BRI helps foster new engines for economic development. According to a report by the World Bank, the BRI increased the trade of participating parties by 4.1%, attracted 5% more foreign investment, and leveled up the GDP of low-income countries by 3.4%.

Benefiting from the BRI, the GDP share of emerging and developing economies in the world increased by 3.6% from 2012 to 2021. The World Bank estimates that by 2030, the BRI will generate US$1.6 trillion in global revenue each year, accounting for 1.3% of global GDP.

From 2015 to 2030, almost 40 million people will be lifted out of poverty under the auspices of BRI. By the end of 2022, Chinese enterprises’ investment in the cooperating countries has created 421,000 local jobs, with more than 3,000 projects being implemented, realizing development dreams for people in many countries.

At the same time, batches of small scale agricultural, medical, and poverty reduction projects, being designed to address practical problems related to people’s livelihood and well-being, and improve the production and living conditions of the people, have been notably successful, bringing a real sense of gain.

Second, it facilitated the connectivity between China and countries along the route in five priority dimensions of policy, infrastructure, trade, finance and people-to-people ties.

As of the end of June 2023, China has signed more than 200 documents on jointly building the BRI with 152 countries and 32 international organisations, synergizing the BRI with cooperating partners’ national development strategies.

Over the past 10 years, trade between China and its partners of BRI has grown from strength to strength. China has become the largest trading partner of 25 countries, and signed 7 free trade agreements with 13 countries.

A connectivity framework involving six corridors, six types of routes, multiple countries, and multiple ports has been shaped, significantly promoted the connectivity of inland countries such as Laos, Nepal and Kazakhstan with the world by building roads and railways.

The China-Europe Railway Express opened up a new channel for Asia-Europe land transport, becoming an anchor of stability for global supply chains.

Multilateral financial cooperation institutions such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Silk Road Fund, and the New Development Bank were established one after another, helping solving shortage of funds for global infrastructure construction in developing countries.

Moreover, as the communication and cooperation in education, culture and tourism are enhanced, people-to-people exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations along the route also flourished.

Third, it helped optimise global development and global governance. In modern times, global challenges such as economic recession, unilateralism and protectionism, and regional conflicts emerge and haunt the world, and the international community cries for necessary reforms. Under the BRI framework, China and cooperating countries jointly promote economic openness and cooperation, abandon anti-globalisation moves and geopolitical calculations, and contribute to healthy economic globalisation.

China never believes that there is only one development module in the world, but emphasizes that each country should choose its own development path according to its national conditions.

The BRI upholds true multilateralism, takes into account the interests of all stakeholders, and allows the people of all parties to make the “cake” bigger and share it more equally.

Therefore, the BRI has enhanced the voice of developing countries and emerging economies in regional and global economic governance, and is of great significance to global governance reform.

Building the Initiative from vision into reality and changing it from a concept into a real action in the past decade were no easy task – thanks to the joint efforts of all parties, the BRI has demonstrated resilience and its future looks promising.

The long-awaited Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation is expected to create new opportunities for international cooperation and convey a signal that the BRI could promote unity, interconnection and common development among countries around the world.

In fact, apart from the BRI, Chinese President Xi Jinping also proposed three other Initiatives over the past three years, namely, Global Development Initiative, Global Security Initiative and Global Civilisation Initiative, which are widely welcomed by the international community – China is gradually becoming a even more constructive contributor to global development and global governance.

China and Grenada signed the Memorandum of Understanding on joint construction of the BRI in 2018, opening a new chapter in practical and friendly cooperation between the two countries.

The Maurice Bishop International Airport Upgrade Project, scheduled to be finished by the end of this year, the China-aided low income housing project, the technical cooperation of the national stadiums, the agricultural technical cooperation, the fruitful human resource development cooperation between China and Grenada are good testaments to the benefits of BRI.

The China-Caribbean Conference on BRI Implementation, co-hosted by China and Grenada in 2019 also became a milestone of Caribbean countries’ participation in the BRI. 10 countries altogether in the Caribbean have signed documents with China on the BRI as of today – the meaning of the cooperation is highlighted by the ports, bridges, highways, clean energy facilities and other major infrastructure projects built or funded by Chinese companies or investment.

To realise common development and prosperity, abundant opportunities are waiting for China and Grenada to explore, as the prospect of the coordination between the BRI and the transformational agenda of Grenada is promising.

China is ready to work with all countries to enhance the high-quality development of the Belt and Road cooperation in pursuit of building a community with a shared future for humankind.

Wei Hongtian is the resident Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China in Grenada