From April 25 to 27, 2019, the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) was successfully held in Beijing. The BRF is the highest international cooperation platform under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). At the first BRF two years ago, President Xi and leaders of various countries drew the blueprint of the construction of the BRI.
This year’s forum is themed on Belt and Road Cooperation: Shaping a Brighter Shared Future. 40 leaders attended the Leaders’ Roundtable of the Forum, including heads of state and government from 38 countries including China, United Nations (UN) Secretary General and Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Over 6,000 foreign guests from 150 countries and 92 international organizations participated in the forum.
The participating parties reached broad consensus on high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, delivering substantial results. It should be highlighted that, over 100 multilateral and bilateral cooperation documents were signed between China and relevant countries and international organisations. A list of 283 concrete deliverables was achieved. Chinese and foreign enterprises reached cooperation agreements worth more than 64 billion US dollars in total.
Today’s world is undergoing major changes unseen in the past century. Particularly, economic globalization suffers setbacks; world economic growth remains sluggish; and the international situation is exposed to prominent unstable factors. Faced with profound and huge changes, many people feel perplexed, and quite a few countries are looking for new paths for development and are exploring the way of global economic governance.
Against this backdrop, the second BRF, not only opens a new stage of building the Belt and Road, catalyzes China’s reform and opening up, but also takes a clear-cut stand in upholding the main theme of building an open world economy. There are some major outcome highlights, which I’d like to share as follows:
First, set the goal of jointly promoting high-quality Belt and Road cooperation. As the broadened and enriched vision of the Belt and Road cooperation, it is stressed by the Joint Communique of the Leaders’ Roundtable that the high-quality Belt and Road cooperation should be promoted on the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, and the BRI should be open, green and clean cooperation, following a high-standard, people-centered, and sustainable approach.
Second, promote a global partnership of connectivity. Participating parties have widely supported the idea of promoting a global partnership of connectivity to achieve common development and agreed to develop high-quality, sustainable, resilient, affordable, and inclusively accessible infrastructure, and improve the “soft connectivity” of policies, rules and standards among countries based on the partnerships and multilateralism spirit. All parties look forward to deepening cooperation with the Chinese side. So far, 127 countries including Nigeria and 29 international organizations have signed Belt and Road cooperation documents.
Third, improve the Belt and Road cooperation architecture. During the forum this year, apart from the bilateral and tripartite cooperation, all parties also proposed and established over 20 platforms for Belt and Road multilateral dialogues and cooperation. The Belt and Road international cooperation architecture led by the BRF and underpinned by multilateral and bilateral cooperation in various areas has been shaped. The participating parties have highly acclaimed the influence of the BRF and look forward to future forums.
The BRI is an international economic cooperation initiative proposed in 2013 by Chinese President Xi Jinping, whose core value is enhancing all-around connectivity through infrastructure construction. It aims to explore new driving force for the world economic growth, and build a new platform for world economic cooperation. Since its inception about six years ago, the BRI has received strong endorsement and warm support of the international community. It has delivered fruitful outcomes in boosting economic growth and improving people’s lives in participating countries. Meanwhile, the BRI vision has been included in documents of major international institutions including the United Nations, the G20, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Indeed, the BRI has proved a popular and worthy cause that goes along with the trend of our times and responds to the shared aspiration of countries for development through mutually beneficial cooperation.
The Belt and Road is China’s initiative, but it belongs to the world and benefits all. We are happy to see that in Africa, the African Union and 39 African countries have already signed documents on BRI cooperation with China. We stand ready to strengthen comprehensive cooperation with the African countries in jointly building the Belt and Road to share the win-win outcomes.
The Belt and Road cooperation is entering a new stage, which is also mapping out blueprint for the high-quality BRI cooperation between China and Nigeria. Nigeria is the largest economy and most populous country in Africa, while China is the largest developing country in the world. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1971 and strategic partnership in 2005 in particular between China and Nigeria, the friendship and cooperation between China and Nigeria have delivered tangible benefits to our two peoples, which laid a solid foundation for high-quality cooperation between China and Nigeria on BRI.
In 2018, China-Nigeria Cooperation has made fruitful and prominent achievements. The commissioning of Abuja Light Railway and the new airport terminals in Port Harcourt and Abuja, the flag-off of Abuja-Keffi-Lafia-Makurdi Road, the ongoing construction of Zungeru Hydropower Plant as well as Lagos-Ibadan Railway and Lekki Deep Seaport, the booming Ogun Guandong and Lekki Free Trade Zones, the fruitful promotion of the “Made in Nigeria with China” initiative, the signing of China-Nigeria Currency Swap Deal, the port call of Frigate Yancheng to Lagos, etc…We are glad to note that China-Nigeria relations have reached a stage of rapid growth unmatched in history.
The year of 2019 is the first year that Nigeria formally joins the big family of the BRI since China and Nigeria signed a governmental MoU on the BRI last September during the FOCAC Beijing Summit. Nigeria attached great importance to the second BRF. The Honorable Minister of Finance, Madam Zainab Ahmed and the Honorable Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi led a delegation of more than 20 high-level officials to Beijing to participate the relevant thematic forums and reached important consensus on bilateral cooperation under the framework of BRI. The BRI has already become pacesetters in the building of a community of shared future for all mankind and the stable growth of cooperation between China and Africa, as some Nigerian scholars comment in the local media.
On 1 October 2019, China will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. That is the same day celebrated in Nigeria as the 59th Independence Day. The Coordinators’ Meeting of the Implementation of the Follow-up Actions of the Beijing Summit of the FOCAC will be held in Beijing in June. China is ready to work with Nigeria, through pursuing a high-quality BRI cooperation, and through the implementation of the outcome of Beijing Summit of FOCAC to elevate our strategic partnership to a new level and bring greater benefits to the two peoples.
(Dr. Zhou Pingjian is Ambassador of China to Nigeria)
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