Business / Hangzhou G20

Belt and Road can help promote sustainability

By Fu Jing (China Daily) Updated: 2016-09-04 09:28

During a recent series of talks with academics and analysts on the prospects for the G20 Leaders Summit in Hangzhou on Sept 4 and 5, Fredrik Erixon, director of the European Center for International Political Economy (ECIPE), made two points that impressed me.

One was his view on the status quo of the global situation, which he described as an "extraordinarily difficult time". That's something that's hard to disagree with, especially in the European Union, which is facing tremendous challenges.

And on a broader scale, such is the backdrop to the G20 summit, which is a platform for the leaders to forge consensus and generate a new impetus for global growth.

His second key point was China has been actively offering global solutions, and it can inspire the other participants at the summit to do likewise.

One example of this is the grand Belt and Road cooperation that China has initiated. And, looking back, the development of the initiative has come in tandem with the annual G20 summits.

President Xi Jinping, for instance, first raised the idea just two days after his first attendance at a G20 summit, when Russia had the chair in 2013, when he delivered a speech at Nazarbayev University in Astana, Kazakhstan, and proposed the Silk Road Economic Belt.

One month later, he gave a speech in Indonesia, in which he proposed establishing a Maritime Silk Road for the 21st Century.

In 2014, before the G20 Summit was held in Australia, China announced it was setting up the Silk Road Fund with an initial investment of $40 billion.

In 2015, when Turkey was the chair, the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank came into operation.

Xi attended an important seminar on the Belt and Road Initiatives just 20 days before the upcoming G20 summit, at which he said the initial outcome of the two proposals had been "unexpectedly fruitful," with about 30 countries entering into concrete agreements with China to materialize the initiatives.

When Xi first raised the Belt and Road Initiatives, some claimed China would use it to export its polluting industrial capacity.

However, while it is true that China aims to export its overcapacity of industrial production that does not mean it will be polluting and out of date. For many countries, it will be a critical engine of growth, creating new jobs and making new development possible.

Xi has emphasized that the Belt and Road should be green and the people in countries along the new Silk Roads should be beneficiaries of the initiatives.

Of course, China still has a lot to do to achieve sustainable, green development. But the government is being more aggressive in its law enforcement against polluters and corruption.

Recent cases have shown that senior officials are being punished or removed from their posts for violating environmental laws.

And China is serious about making the Belt and Road green. The charter of the AIIB stipulates clearly that the environmental impact will be the key criteria when considering financing a new project.

The European Union is competitive in green technologies and has strong environmental protection laws. These are advantages if it is willing to join the green Silk Road initiative.

And certainly a China-EU partnership in this regard would offer practical benefits for third party countries along the Belt and Road.

Confidence in sustainable growth can be justified if all along the new Silk Roads demonstrate the necessary resolve to be greener.

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