BRI: A review of global progress in 2019
The Belt and Road Initiative is set to play a more effective role in stabilizing global and peaceful development, anchoring accelerated economic growth, and strengthening global friendship across the board.
A growing number of countries were engaged in the Belt and Road Initiative in 2019. Another 15 countries joined the Belt and Road initiative in 2019, such as Italy, the first member from the G7 countries.
Some countries are deeply aware of the changes in the international market and are more determined to promote Belt and Road cooperation. The governments of the United Kingdom and Myanmar have jointly established a Belt and Road guidance advisory body. Japan, Switzerland and Austria have formulated third-party market collaboration mechanisms with China.
Foreign trade, despite the headwinds, witnessed an uptick last year, effectively hedging global instability factors and stimulating the economic growth of the countries involved in the initiative.
In the first 11 months of 2019, the trade volume between China and the 64 countries involved in the Belt and Road initiative increased 4.8 percent year-on-year to $1.2 trillion, twice the rate of the national growth of foreign trade.
At the second China International Import Expo, President Xi Jinping declared that China will further promote its opening-up policy to a new level and proposed to build a world economy based on open collaboration, open innovation and open sharing.
Interconnectivity has become a mutual understanding across the world. President Xi Jinping stressed that the key to advancing the alignment of the Belt and Road Initiative is all-around interconnectivity.
The second CIIE, which was held in Shanghai last November, attracted more than 3,800 enterprises and over 500,000 domestic and overseas buyers, with $71.13 billion worth of tentative deals reached.
The China-Europe freight trains have witnessed significant growth during the past year. A total of 8,225 trains were operated, with year-on-year growth of 29 percent. Laptops, auto parts, communication equipment, small appliances, food, medical devices and other products departed China for Europe.
Meanwhile, German beer, Belgian chocolate, Belarusian milk and Cypriot juice were transported into China through the China-Europe trains. Colorful roses from Ecuador, Norwegian salmon and French oysters were also pouring into China from the Air Silk Road, and Chilean cherries became a delicacy accessible to more and more Chinese.
Raising the bar and promoting interconnectivity of infrastructures alike, the China Railway Major Bridge Engineering Group Co Ltd managed to take advantage of Chinese technologies to build a dream bridge to Chinese standards, ending thousands of years of history when residents on both sides of the Padma River in Bangladesh had to cross the river via ferry boats.
The Mombasa-Nairobi Railway, designed and built according to Chinese technical standards, witnessed rapid growth in passenger and freight traffic in 2019, with the average passenger occupancy rate at 95 percent, operating 16 freight trains per day. And 6 million tons of goods were transported throughout the year, up 70 percent year-on-year, greatly promoting Kenya's economic and coastal tourism development.
In order to build a digital Silk Road driven by innovation, China has been collaborating with participating countries of the Belt and Road Initiative in the field of digital economy -- in areas such as smart cities, mobile payment and cross-border e-commerce -- to jointly narrow the global digital gap.
The Pakistan-East Africa submarine optical cable connects Pakistan and Kenya through Djibouti to build a new digital economic highway for Africa and Central Asia.
The Beidou satellite navigation system is compatible with the satellite navigation application products covering countries involved in the Belt and Road, providing advanced, accurate and comprehensive information services for all countries alike.
India, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and other countries have launched Alipay businesses, stepping into the new era of mobile payment.
In 2019, more than 980 Belt and Road-related initiatives were published by 137 think tanks in 31 countries, an increase of 31 percent over 2018, with a greater proportion emphasizing objective and fair facts.
Many critical international think tanks, including those of the United States, have become more and more aware that the Belt and Road Initiative is a win-win solution for promoting common development and achieving common prosperity. It is a road toward peace and friendship by enhancing mutual understanding, trust and all-around exchanges.
The 230-kilovolt trunk network connection project in North Kachin state of Myanmar has been completed and put into operation, meeting the power demand of 5 million Myanmar households. The Zhongta agricultural textile project of the Xinjiang Zhongtai Group has created 1,600 permanent jobs for Tajikistan and provided 300,000 temporary workers on an annual basis. The average unit yield of cotton planting bases is more than twice that of the local area.
We are not only offering fish, but teaching others how to fish by themselves. In Zambia, PowerChina established the Sinohydro training school based on the project under construction, and China Merchants Group established a training center in Sri Lanka through a blue-ocean training plan to provide training in various skills and jobs to local workers free of charge.
A report from the World Bank estimates that the comprehensive implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative can help lift 32 million people out of moderate poverty and increase the trade volume of global and Belt and Road economies by 6.2 percent and 9.7 percent respectively, so as to increase global income by 2.9 percent.
Looking ahead to the complex and changeable international situation that will unfold in 2020, the blueprint for enabling a high-quality Belt and Road Initiative is much clearer, the path to success more explicit, and measures to be taken more effective.
This article was contributed by the Belt and Road Initiative Center, National Development and Reform Commission.
The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not represent the views of China Daily and China Daily website.