The second Belt and Road Forum has come and gone but emphasis is being laid by the Chinese government on working together to achieve global development. Bukola Ogunsina writes
The second Belt & Road Forum for International Cooperation which was held in Beijing from April 25th to conclude yesterday, 27th, attracted global attention, more especially as this year marks China’s 70th anniversary. The BRI asides connecting the world also seeks to build economic prosperity for all involved.
This year’s Belt & Road Forum focuses on
promotion of high-quality development of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), themed “Belt and Road Cooperation: Shaping a Brighter Shared Future”.
About 5,000 participants from over 150 countries and 90 international organisations are said to have attended what is called the most important diplomatic event in China.
Media reports state that the total trade volume between China and the BRI countries has exceeded $6 trillion, and the 82 cooperation parks jointly built by China and other participating countries has established an estimate of 300,000 jobs for local communities.
Some experts see the Belt &Road Initiative as a welcome development as it brings countries together towards a common goal for mankind. A few have disparaged it as an very ambitious dream.
However China is not giving up and the BRI has made sufficient progress with more countries taking part since it was mentioned about six years ago. The successful outcome of the second BRI Forum held in Beijing is proof.
In the past six years, the BRI has brought several opportunities to the participant countries. According to the quantitative trade model of a World Bank study, the BRI will increase the GDP of East Asian and Pacific developing countries by 2.6 percent to 3.9 percent on average.
In a media report, Jacques Godfrain, president of Charles de Gaulle Foundation from France, pointed out that the world is facing a trend of anti-globalisation, while the Belt and Road construction is a proof to skeptics that globalisation can proceed among countries in an organised and orderly manner.
China, to achieve the BRI theme for this year, will continue upholding the principle of openness, inclusiveness and transparency. The Chinese government will also listen to constructive suggestions from all parties involved and make economic globalisation more open and beneficial to all.
President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, in a report, announced that the BRI is promoting world stability by connecting different countries, cultures, and peoples spiritually and materialistically.
Media reports indicate that some key players in Europe are joining the BRI. During a meeting in Paris, leaders from China, France, Germany and the European Union (EU) came together to discuss vital issues and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested that the EU speed up bilateral investment negotiations with China and look towards exploring and joining the BRI.
French President Emmanuel Macron had mentioned that the EU could align its development strategy with the BRI in an innovative way and jointly promote Eurasian connectivity.
The Belt & Road has several aspects including driving green, sustainable development.
In a proposal initiated by Chinese President Xi Jinping, China seeks to build a large data service platform on ecological and environmental protection and also an international coalition for green development on the Belt and Road.
The initiative will also build an international cooperation network that is open, inclusive and voluntary, to encourage green development in Belt and Road construction.
This process according to China’s Ecology and Environment Minister Li Ganjie, will
further build international consensus, and accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Belt and Road countries.
An example of a green project is the railway linking Kenya’s largest port city Mombasa to capital Nairobi, built by a Chinese company . A total of 14 structures were built along the line to help the migrating wildlife to cross the railway safely.
Financial integration is also a key point for the BRI and has a direct impact on the implementation of its projects. According to the Chinese media, Chinese financial institutions have played their roles and made massive contribution to the investment, financing, operation, implementation, and risk control of BRI projects.
Policy banks such as the China Development Bank and the Exim Bank of China, have given full play to their role in basic financing and are leading other banks in this field.
Commercial banks comprising of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the Agricultural Bank of China, the Bank of China and the China Construction Bank have also been supportive of commercial projects.
Equity funds such as the Silk Road Fund and China Investment Corporation as well as insurance organisations such as China Export and Credit Insurance Corporation have also contributed to the BRI.
Reports state that from 2013 to 2018, China’s direct investment in BRI countries surpassed $90 billion, while the value of trade between China and these countries exceeded $6 trillion.
As of present, 124 countries and 29 international organisations have signed cooperation agreements with China on the BRI.
Meanwhile, 82 economic and trade cooperation zones built by Chinese enterprises in en-route countries have established an estimate of 300,000 local jobs.
The BRI, was an idea of Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, and seen as a vital innovation in the field of 21st century international relations.
China as a country, has since advanced economically, and according to reports the country owns the world’s largest foreign reserves at $3.12 trillion, second largest GDP at $11 trillion and third highest levels of foreign direct investment at $170 billion.
China’s share of the world economy grew from 1.8 percent in 1978 to 18.2 percent in 2017, making it a major world economic power accounting for almost 30 percent of the world economy in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Similarly, the Belt and Road News Network (BRNN) ushering in the Forum, held its First Council Meeting, hosted by the People’s Daily, on 23rd of April 2019. The council comprises of 40 influential media organisations from 25 countries. BRNN has signed up 182 media outlets from 86 countries.
Participants at the council meeting said that they were very inspired by the Meeting, and stressed that the network serves as a chance to present the truth about the BRI.
Chinese President Xi Jinping on 23rd of April, sent a congratulatory letter to the Meeting. It is his expectation that the council would further boost people-to-people exchanges and promote the BRI to give more substantial outcome for the people.
The BRI is rooted in the ancient Silk Road that in the past, connected countries and civilisations. This Silk Road it is noted ‘achieved prosperity in togetherness, by camel trains, treasure ships, goodwill and friendship.’ With BRI today in the 21st Century, China can bring back the spirit of the ancient Silk Road.