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Belt and Road forum will add to what initiative entails

China Daily | Updated: 2017-04-19 07:39

The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, which is scheduled for May 14-15 in Beijing, presents the world a golden opportunity to seek cross-continental development cooperation featuring inclusiveness and openness.

With the theme "Boosting Cooperation and Realizing Win-Win Development", the forum will give fresh impetus to collaborative efforts to realize a more balanced, equitable and inclusive development model.

First proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013, the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road have won wide support from the international community, and there is now a broad international consensus on quickening the implementation of the initiative.

Representatives from 110 countries, including 28 heads of state and government, will attend next month's gathering, showing that the "circle of friends" being forged by the initiative continues to expand.

Although led by China, the connotations of the initiative, originally aimed at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa, have been further enriched and substantiated by other participants, and China hopes the international forum will continue that process.

Participating countries can elaborate on ways to integrate the initiative into their own development strategies; key areas of cooperation in such fields as connectivity, trade and investment, finance and people-to-people exchanges can be identified; and the form of a long-term cooperation mechanism can be explored.

And although initiated by China - proof of its strong sense of responsibility and its willingness to provide a Chinese solution to global development challenges - it is not a "membership club", as Foreign Minister Wang Yi pointed out on Tuesday. Hence, rather than being a geopolitical tool it is perhaps the most inclusive platform for cooperation the world has ever witnessed.

Admittedly, the world does not lack multilateral mechanisms for regional or international cooperation. But, more often than not, they are fragmented and exclusive. And with growing uncertainties and angst about the prospects of the world economy and a backlash against globalization, there is, as Xi has said, a need to revisit and change the current paths of development.

The Belt and Road Initiative offers the means to do just that, by timely opening up a new horizon for the world to achieve common development through win-win cooperation.

Now all countries can participate in the initiative in ways they deem appropriate, and in doing so, share the benefits. For the ambitious initiative is not just empty words, it is an overarching vision that embraces practical projects and measures to promote interconnectivity and sustainable development.

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