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Silk Road initiatives to boost China-EU ties

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-02-12 11:14

SHANGHAI - The Silk Road initiatives put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping will help strengthen China-EU ties, observers have said, in the year marking the 40th anniversary of China-EU relations being established.

It would be strategic blindness for the European Union, China's first trading partner, to overlook the opportunities offered by Xi's proposal, said David Gosset of Shanghai's China Europe International Business School.

Four decades on from China and the EU formally establishing ties, 2015 can be a new departure for relations between the two edges of Eurasia, he said in a signed online article entitled "China's Grand Strategy: The New Silk Road".

According to Gosset, the initiatives will "profoundly mark China's coming decade and reshape Eurasia".

The "Belt and Road" refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiatives to better cooperate with countries in Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

The strategy covers countries and regions with a total population of 4.4 billion and a total economic volume of $21 trillion, 63 percent and 29 percent respectively of the world's total.

China has plans for major projects to improve connectivity along the routes. During the Beijing APEC summit,Xi announced a Silk Road fund of $40 billion.

More highways, railways and air routes will be opened and Chinese regions will integrate resources, policies and markets to connect with the outside world.

China is currently in high-speed rail negotiations with 28 nations, most of which are along the routes, with a total length of track over 5,000 km on the agenda.

Fully embraced by the European Union and other Eurasian actors, the New Silk Road will take 65 percent of the world's population toward an unprecedented level of cohesiveness and prosperity, Gosset said in the article.

The construction of Belt and Road routes will be conducive to expanding China's opening to the West and the EU's opening to the East, so it is a real win-win deal, said Bai Ming, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.

The EU will have more business opportunities in Asian countries via the initiatives, said Bai.

Zhu Dan, with the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, said that the policy dividends of the Belt and Road initiatives will prove particularly attractive to circles in Europe given the problems in the European economy.

Though 2014 saw the Chinese economy grow 7.4 percent, the weakest annual expansion in 24 years, economists have interpreted this as a shifting from high-speed growth to medium-to-high growth, focusing on quality and efficiency.

Policymakers are hoping that the Belt and Road initiatives, bringing more and deeper cooperation with the world, will also provide a long-term boost for the country's economy.

China and Europe are complementary to each other in terms of economic structure, which lays a solid foundation for bilateral trade and cooperation, according to Zhu.

The new infrastructure will also encourage more Chinese enterprises to invest aboard while European companies welcome investment from China, she said.

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