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Belt and Road Initiative mirrors China's bigger role: scholar

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-10-20 09:06

BRUSSELS - The Belt and Road Initiative mirrors the profound transformation of a China that has become more active on the global stage, an Italian scholar told Xinhua in a recent interview.

China has played an increasingly important role as a global player when Chinese President Xi Jinping sought for a more assertive and engaged foreign policy, said Francesco Mancini, associate dean and visiting associate professor at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore.

Mancini said the Belt and Road Initiative is not only an economic project, but also President Xi's policy framework, stressing that the initiative is a very long-term investment.

Mancini also observed a "dramatic reverse" in the foreign policies of the Western powers and China, explaining that while the United States has been closing on itself, China is promoting free trade and multilateral institutions.

"President Xi in a well-known speech in Davos at the beginning of the year has underlined that the world must remain committed to developing global free trade and investment, promoting trade and investment liberalization through opening-up, and rejecting protectionism," he said.

Mancini also noted that while the current US administration seems inclined to increase its nuclear armament, Xi delivered a clearer message at UN headquarters in Geneva, calling for nuclear disarmament and a world free of nuclear weapons.

"These speeches have positioned China not only as a regional player but also a global leader in promoting specific global goals," he said.

As regards to regional governance, the visiting associate professor said it will be interesting to see if China would become more engaged in conflict resolution efforts.

"This could be a positive development given the retreat of the US and its rather poor political standing in many regions of the world," he said.

He also noted that Beijing has created a parallel system of financial institutions, such as Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and BRICS Development Bank.

"This has increased investment options for many countries and it has to been seen as a very positive addition to global governance," he said.

When it comes to the future of China's foreign policy, Mancini said China is aware that its "amazing development" in the past years has been possible thanks to globalization, adding that this will make China keener to search for win-win strategies rather than confrontational approaches.

The Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by Xi in 2013, aims to create greater trade, infrastructure and people-to-people links between Asia, Europe and Africa by reviving and expanding the ancient Silk Trade routes. The modern version comprises an overland Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

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