G7 and G20 summits can take inspiration from Silk Road spirit
President Xi Jinping chairs the Leaders' Roundtable Summit at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, on May 15, 2017. [Photo by Xu Jingxing/chinadaily.com.cn]
Of all the hundreds of foreign participants at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing on Sunday and Monday, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni and Germany's Minister for Economics and Energy Brigitte Zypries could be the key messengers spreading the forum's consensus that tearing the walls apart can achieve common peace and prosperity.
This is simply because Gentiloni, who joined state leaders from across the world in Beijing, will host the G7 summit in the Sicilian town of Taormina on May 26-27 and Germany will be chairing G20 Leaders Meeting in Hamburg on July 7-8.
Zypries attended the forum on behalf of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who could not attend due to a scheduling conflict.
The two countries are certainly busy with agenda-setting for the upcoming summits, and Gentiloni and Zypries will have noted the proposals, solutions and suggestions that are emerging from the two-day gathering in Beijing.
What China is basically proposing with the Belt and Road Initiative is the world should engage in joint consultation and cooperation in pursuit of peace and prosperity, rather than engage in confrontation which only leads to conflict.
This revival of the Silk Road spirit is something the upcoming G7 and G20 summits urgently need to embrace. When their meeting wrapped up on Saturday, the G7 finance ministers and central bank governors failed to adopt a firm stance against protectionism mainly because of the opposition of the United States' representative.
The G20 finance ministers were also not on the same page at their meeting in March as they dropped their commitment to take "no single protection measure", a practice adopted in the depth of the global economic recession.
However, it is not just the United States that is taking a protectionist stance. The European Union announced anti-dumping measures against China's exports of pipes and tubes made from steel and iron last week.
The leaders who have gathered in Beijing issued a communique highlighting their consensus to deepen cooperation and build more opportunities by connecting different countries, regions and cultures through better infrastructure, innovative financial tools and encouraging the flow of other productivity elements.
The task of spreading this message falls on Italy and Germany's shoulders when they host the forthcoming summits.
It is true that they are being held at a difficult time, as French President Emmanuel Macron only began his five-year term on Sunday, Donald Trump took office in January and Gentiloni started to lead Italian government last December. British Prime Minister Theresa May is also a new face.
But the leaders should not only spend their time on laying the "foundations for trust," which always appears to be a core task of their gatherings. They now need to be decisive in delivering concrete outcomes.
They must fight against protectionism, collectively learning from the Silk Road spirit that has been evident in Beijing during the Belt and Road Forum. And they must secure the harvest of global efforts to fight against climate change. If so, that will pave the way for the G20 summit in Hamburg, for which, the theme is connectivity.
In many ways, this theme already reflects some of the outcomes of Belt and Road Initiative, and the participants should be encouraged to debate and find ways to achieve not only greater infrastructure connectivity via roads, highways, railways, and ports, but also through financial openness and digital transformation.
On Sunday, the World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab called the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China a model for fostering economic development and international cooperation. He plans to deepen the scope of the WEF's debates and discussions by linking the initiative with its research and agenda-setting process on various occasions.
In acting as timely messengers and transforming the world into a better place, Italy and Germany can follow the example set by Schwab and use the Silk Road spirit of peaceful exchanges to guide the G7 and G20 summits.
The author is deputy chief of China Daily European Bureau. email@example.com