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Initiative is 'gaining incredible momentum'

By Andrew Moody and Chen Yingqun | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-15 08:37

The Belt and Road Initiative is the only current significant engine for global economic growth, the head of a leading think tank says.

Helga Zepp-LaRouche, founder of the Schiller Institute, an international political and economic think tank in Washington, said the initiative is already a remarkable achievement.

"This is a new perspective for the future. I think it is a new dynamic that is really gaining incredible momentum.

"The people who said the Belt and Road Initiative would collapse have been proved quickly wrong because the statistics now show it has become the new engine of growth for the world economy - in fact, the only one - and it will continue to be like that."

Zepp-LaRouche, who was speaking on the opening day of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, said the initiative now has a clear shape.

"In my mind it is pretty clear how it is developing because China has had an unbelievable economic miracle in the last 30 years, and in a certain sense what the Belt and Road Initiative does is allow China to export that economic miracle."

The German-born Zepp-LaRouche, 68, said greater connectivity would aid development in some of the world's most troubled areas, particularly in the Middle East.

"The initiative has changed the dynamic around many of the crisis spots already. Hopefully, we can enter a new era of mankind so we can stop having senseless wars with people suffering."

Zepp-LaRouche said her own institute, founded in 1984, was an early advocate of the underlying ideas of the Belt and Road.

Where China could make a difference is in its commitment to high-speed rail, she said.

"China has become a leader in fast-train building. By 2020 it will have 40,000 kilometers of fast rail, compared to none at all in the United States. If the United States wanted to do the same thing with much of its infrastructure in a terrible condition, it would have to ask the Chinese for their expertise."

She hoped the US would eventually join in and fully support the initiative.

"I think there were positive signs of this when President Xi met with President Trump in his Mar-a-Lago private residence in Florida. There has been good communication between the two, and while Mr Trump may not be at the forum, an early trip is planned to China."

Denis Depoux, Asia deputy president and senior partner of Roland Berger, a global consultancy, said the initiative could also be a boon to European companies.

"Many of the European infrastructure, industry equipment and services giants have a chance to leverage their experience in these regions, partner with their Chinese counterparts and develop a new, more inclusive, joint development approach."

The Belt and Road could remove many of the major barriers to development in many parts of the world, he said.

"Financing challenges, and first and foremost insufficient infrastructure, have hindered development. China's initiative brings structure, financing and political impetus, while the strong focus on infrastructure will swiftly enable easier trade and investment."

Contact the writers at andrewmoody@chinadaily.com.cn

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