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BRI builds solidarity amid COVID-19 pandemic

China Daily | Updated: 2020-04-28 11:17
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A Special Task Force member sprays disinfectant inside a room at the Postal Headquarters during the curfew amid concerns about the spread of the COVID-19, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 27, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

To much applause, an extension to Sri Lanka's Southern Expressway was officially opened to traffic recently. That achievement was made possible thanks to the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, and Sri Lanka is just one of many countries benefiting gaining from this cooperation.

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony in February with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, later tweeted: "The extension of Southern Expressway up to Hambantota will connect lives, livelihoods and boost economic activity.

"It's the key infrastructure that links Hambantota Port and Mattala Rajapaksa Hambantota Airport and supports our vision in building Sri Lanka as a logistic hub in Asia."

The extension of the freeway is among the many advances made as part of the BRI. Amid the raging novel coronavirus pandemic, the initiative has also become increasingly viable and advantageous to the initiative's partners.

Over the past year, 16 countries and international organizations have signed official BRI cooperation documents with China, bringing the total number to 199.

China's official data for BRI-related projects in the first quarter of this year shows $4.2 billion in non-financial direct investments were made in 52 partners by Chinese enterprises, an increase of 11.7 percent from a year earlier.

The brisk pace of BRI construction has helped increase confidence and provide direction for partners during the pandemic, said Wang Linggui, a senior research fellow and deputy director of the Institute of Intelligence and Information Research of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Mutual support

This is evident in Pakistan. During the critical moments of China's fight against the disease, Pakistan donated emergency supplies to its neighbor.

Pakistani President Arif Alvi also visited China to express his country's firm support to Chinese leaders in person. Later, when Pakistan was facing mounting challenges, China not only donated tons of medical supplies but sent medical experts to help.

Significantly, the second stage of construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor remains in progress without any disruption from the virus, involving 40,000 local workers and 7,000 from China, Pakistani media reported.

The two countries have shown the world through their concrete actions that the China-Pakistan community of a shared future is not just empty words, said Shakeel Ahmed Ramay, head of the China Study Center at Pakistan's Sustainable Development Policy Institute.

Such mutual help during the pandemic is also extensive between China and Italy. Apart from supporting each other through deliveries of much-needed materials, the two countries have also given one another moral support.

In the eyes of Fabio Massimo Parenti, an Italian scholar of international studies at the International Institute Lorenzo de' Medici, Italy made the right decision in becoming the first nation among the G7 group to sign a memorandum of understanding on the BRI with China.


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