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BRI promotes modernization, mutual benefit

China Daily | Updated: 2023-10-19 07:27
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Editor's note: President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech themed "Building an Open, Inclusive and Interconnected World For Common Development" at the opening ceremony of the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on Wednesday. The Belt and Road Initiative cooperation extends from the Eurasian continent to Africa and Latin America, and more than 150 countries and over 30 international organizations have signed BRI cooperation documents. Experts share their views on the speech with China Daily. Excerpts follow:

Building a community with a shared future for mankind

For the past decade, the projects, achievements and influence of the Belt and Road Initiative have spread to all corners of the world. During the time, the growth of the initiative has been in stark contrast to some of the political trends such as trade protectionism, anti-globalization, and "decoupling" or "de-risking" initiated by Western leaders.

The West's frequent attempt to restrict the development path of developing countries, mainly in the name of "national security", has affected the growth of the global economy. Should the world believe in the West's claim, the global economy would fall into a trough and the international situation would become more turbulent.

The world wants peace and development, and individual countries' choice of development path should be respected. Countries around the world, especially the Global South, need to strengthen their cooperation and unity to jointly boost global economic development so people all over the world can share the fruits of development.

Sharing these development principles, these countries and international organizations, along with China, are writing a new chapter in common development and prosperity amid geopolitical conflicts in other places.

The Belt and Road Initiative has given the world hope, the hope of achieving peace and shared development, amid rising populism and trade protectionism in many parts of the world. The initiative has brought so many countries together so that they could jointly build a community with a shared future for mankind.

Xu Wenhong, deputy secretary-general of the Center for One Belt One Road, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

Success despite obstacles and Western opposition

In his speech at the forum, President Xi emphasized the importance of not perceiving others countries' development as a threat and recognizing the benefits of economic interdependence. This highlights the development philosophy of President Xi.

For instance, despite the trade war launched by the United States against China, economic data show the US suffered significant losses. Ultimately, it's the American people who bore the brunt the US' misplaced policies.

Or take the chip industry. The US and some Western countries restricted the exports of chips to China, but China has used this as an opportunity to develop its chip industry and consolidate its industry and supply chains. In doing so, China has reduced its dependence on US technology and products. Interestingly, some high-tech companies based in Western countries have suffered losses for not being able to supply to the world's largest, profitable chip market.

The Belt and Road Initiative has garnered global recognition and support, leading to significant agreements in project cooperation. And the scale of funding commitments and the number of livelihood assistance programs highlight China's commitment to advancing the initiative in a way that it helps the people of participating countries.

President Xi also said that China should not pursue development in isolation. Instead, it should be a collective endeavor involving all countries, particularly developing countries. And the pursuit of modernization should be based on peaceful development, mutual cooperation and shared prosperity.

This sentiment reflects China's unwavering commitment to playing a responsible and proactive role on the global stage. China firmly believes that its own success is intertwined with the well-being of the international community. And by adopting a win-win approach, fostering mutual trust and cooperation, and endeavoring to achieve mutual benefit, China aims to make a positive contribution to global development.

Liang Haiming, dean of the Hainan University Belt and Road Research Institute

BRI reflects commitment to global development

President Xi, in his speech at the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, outlined eight steps that China will pursue. These initiatives not only reflect China's firm commitment to advancing the initiative based on consultations and shared benefits, but also demonstrate that "only through win-win cooperation can great achievements be made".

The eight steps will help further advance the Belt and Road Initiative and signify China's dedication to enhancing the core strength of the initiative amid global turbulence and transformation. They include new plans for transnational and inter-regional road connectivity, development of new Eurasian logistics channels to integrate ports, shipping and trading services under the "Silk Road Maritime," and accelerate the building of the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor and the Air Silk Road.

The eight plans are aimed at boosting global economic development and demonstrating that China is committed to deepening reform and opening-up, and reflect China's dedication to pursuing green development, and strengthening technological cooperation.

President Xi's proposal embodies China's governance philosophy: "promote and safeguard high-quality development through high-quality openness". To achieve high-quality openness and development, countries across the world must accord the highest importance to mutual respect, openness and win-win cooperation, and use these characteristics to improve global governance.

Xi's action plans have breathed new life into the Belt and Road Initiative and the global economy at a time when anti-globalization is rising and fair competition is waning due to geopolitics.

Zhu Feng, dean of the School of International Studies at Nanjing University

Modernization, globalization, mechanization new mantras

President Xi's speech was focused on modernization, globalization and mechanization, which are crucial for driving shared modernization across the world. Western-style modernization couldn't achieve this goal.

The success of China's modernization has prompted many countries to not only praise it but also join China in taking it forward. The tide of globalization is unstoppable and cannot be reversed. True modernization and globalization, especially for developing countries, are synonymous with Xi's idea of modernization and globalization.

The Belt and Road Initiative has become the biggest proponent and practitioner of globalization. High-quality cooperation mechanisms are propelling global modernization through green digitalization, and making financing more sustainable and robust.

Why has the initiative received positive response from so many countries? It's because the initiative has inspired countries, particularly developing ones, to pursue independent modernization by, for example, sharing China's modernization experience. In the existing globalized system created by the West, achieving modernization is a daunting task for most developing countries.

As a pioneer of collective modernization, the Belt and Road Initiative, through strategic alignment, empowers countries to take their destiny into their own hands and join hands to build a community with a shared future for mankind.

In addition to industrial, agricultural, defense and technological modernization, China also promotes the modernization of its national governance system and improvement of its national governance capacity. China's focus on people-centric development domestically and promotion of a community with a shared future globally are breaking the monopoly of Western-style modernization. It has encouraged more and more countries to pursue the modernization path that best suits their national conditions.

President Xi's speech champions an inclusive, sustainable and people-centric modernization, which is a testament to China's commitment to global progress. And the Belt and Road Initiative represents a shared journey toward realizing this vision.

Wang Yiwei, director of the Institute of International Affairs at Renmin University

From a mere concept to a tangible public good

In his address to the third Belt and Road forum for International Cooperation Forum, President Xi highlighted the importance of the decade-long journey of the Belt and Road Initiative, and laid out a road map for its future journey, with a focus on modernization, technological innovation, connectivity.

In its 10 years of existence, the initiative has transformed from a mere concept into a tangible global public good. Its influence now stretches from Asia and Europe to Africa and Latin America. And over 150 countries and 30 international organizations have signed cooperation documents.

The initiative now encompasses not just physical infrastructure but also soft connectivity, and emphasizes the principles of consultation, cooperation, shared benefits, openness, green development and sustainability. This transformation has turned the initiative to an exemplar of international collaboration.

Xi also highlighted the remarkable role the initiative played during the COVID-19 pandemic. It served as a lifeline, with China supplying billions of face masks and vaccine doses to countries worldwide. And with China partnering more than 20 countries in vaccine production, and offering critical support to other Belt and Road countries, the initiative demonstrated its crucial role beyond economic and infrastructure development.

The initiative has also helped strengthen people-to-people bonds. Cultural exchanges, scholarships, and art festivals have enhanced mutual understanding and strengthened cultural ties between Belt and Road countries. This cultural diplomacy has shown the initiative's impact extends beyond trade connectivity into the realm of culture.

The initiative, as President Xi said, is a vision of mutual prosperity and global development. It encourages win-win cooperation and embraces the values of peace, cooperation and inclusiveness, in order to create a better world, not just for China but for the entire global community.

Muhammad Asif Noor, founder of Friends of BRI Forum and director of Centre for BRI and China Studies, Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies in Pakistan

Vision of global economy and development

When President Xi proposed the Belt and Road Initiative 10 years ago, I, like many others, thought the goals could not be achieved in less than a century and would cost more than the collective GDP of Europe.

Yet a decade later, with a trade volume of $19.1 trillion (exports and imports between China and BRI partner countries) and the participation of more than 150 countries, the seemingly impossible has become a reality. Never before had a global development plan of this magnitude unfolded to improve infrastructure connectivity, create jobs, provide essential goods and boost common development.

Remarkably, even the turbulence and conflicts in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, the threat of American militarism and Western reluctance to accept Asia's progress could not impede the initiative's growth.

Xi articulated his vision for the initiative's future through eight steps. In particular, the "sixth people-to-people exchanges" seemed to address China's well-known soft power challenge, or rather its perceived lack thereof.

Where commerce ventures, culture trails closely behind, accompanied by opportunities for scholarships, journalistic endeavors, educational exchanges, and the learning of the Chinese language.

Xi is the visionary behind the Global Civilization Initiative. I aspire not only for our engineers and economists to embrace the metaphorical Belt and Road journey but also for our writers, historians and publishers to join in.

Thorsten J. Pattberg, a German writer and cultural critic

Xi's speech reignites hope among humanity

President Xi delivered a brief, simple, scientific and practical speech at the third Belt and Road Forum. The brevity of the speech attests to the initiative's success. The simplicity of the discourse eliminates the need for new definitions.

Xi's speech was scientific and factual. Practice, as Mao Zedong said, is the source of knowledge. Xi's speech simply emphasizes the collaborative practice.

Xi embraces the shared enjoyment of harvest time, referencing humanity's collective recollections of sowing and harvesting. The Belt and Road Initiative has begun to reap the major benefits in its 10th year. The first two forums were conducted during the sowing season in spring. The third, in October, is obviously the harvest season.

In almost all Asian civilizations, there is an adage, "You reap what you sow!" It is impossible to sow wheat and reap peanuts. The initiative sowed goodness for 10 years. Today, it is reaping exponential goodness.

Xi reminds us that success can only be earned through hard and consistent work. China and other Belt and Road countries have persevered despite all obstacles and oppositions to achieve these benefits. And as Xi said, the achievements have been made through collective endeavor.

The initiative's 10 years have been a beacon of hope, which according to Xi is what people most need for humankind's development.

Adnan Akfirat, chairman of the Turkish-Chinese Business Development and Friendship Association

Enhancing people-to-people exchanges for a good cause

Does promoting people-to-people exchanges around the world sound like too grand and idealistic an idea? Not, if you ask President Xi. His speech at the third Belt and Road Forum is true to the initiative's original aspiration as a vehicle of global development. The initiative's vision for the future now includes not only improving physical connectivity via infrastructure such as roads, railways, bridges and ports, but also softer connectivity through economic corridors rooted in digital commerce and the internet.

The bottom line is to promote the flow of goods and to do so by exploiting minimum natural and human resources.

Improved connectivity should lead to increased people-to-people exchanges because it's through communication that the ideas in one's mind are transformed into reality. Many people don't realize the people-to-people exchanges fostered by the Belt and Road Initiative include "vibrant cultural events, art festivals, expos, exhibitions and workshops".

Humankind cannot progress on the spoils of war and bloodshed. It needs a community with a shared future to pursue a better future.

Since moving to China to start life afresh 24 years ago, I have made this amazing country my home and realize it is today a reflection of the Belt and Road Initiative's values, the values of peaceful cooperation, inclusive development and common prosperity.

Mario Cavolo, a non-resident senior fellow of the Center for China and Globalization

Vision of BRI is to ensure Global South's happiness

While addressing the third Belt and Road Forum on Wednesday, President Xi underlined the importance of the multi-pronged cooperation among Belt and Road countries, which are overwhelmingly from the Global South. Of the eight new expansions for the advancement of the initiative, "planning together, building together and benefiting together" appears especially important.

Having graduated from being a struggling economy to becoming the world's second-largest economy, China has given shape to many inspiring templates to tackle development problems. Its success in eradication of absolute poverty, for one, is of great importance for countries of the Global South, or the developing world.

And China's relations with the developing countries were way back in history. For instance, developing countries were among the first to establish diplomatic relations after the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. Perhaps the developing countries' enthusiastic embrace of New China formed the germ of the Belt and Road Initiative.

The initiative's roots can also be traced to Kazakhstan, a developing country from the Global South, because Xi proposed the Silk Road Economic Belt (which together with the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road makes up the Belt and Road Initiative) while delivering a speech in Astana, Kazakhstan, in September 2013.

Truly, the initiative has been a game-changer for many countries. BRI's strong global emergence has prompted other countries and regions to announce similar initiatives including "Build Back Better World" by the United States, "Global Gateway" by the European Union and most recently the "India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor" by India. But none of them seem to have the vision and financial backing to succeed.

Birat Anupam, a Kathmandu-based journalist and senior diplomatic correspondent for

Initiative is modernizing global economies and trade

China's rapid economic growth has been a major source of inspiration for developing countries and a cause for alarm for the developed world. Since the launch of reform and opening-up, China has lifted about 800 million people out of abject poverty. Plus, it has been the major driver of global economic growth according to the World Bank.

According to The Economist magazine, the investments in Belt and Road infrastructure projects have created 420,000 jobs, helping lift 40 million people out of poverty. The initiative's first decade has been a startling success. It has also brought concrete benefits to many developing countries, where otherwise many roads and railways might not have been built.

President Xi's domestic and international policies are aimed to simultaneously modernize China's economy by investing in the Belt and Road countries' infrastructure, creating trade links and enhancing the economic growth of the world economy. The initiative links China's market and economic growth with Belt and Road countries' markets and economies across Asia, Africa, Europe and South America.

China understands the needs of developing countries, and the initiative has become an additional source of development funding — an alternative to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank — for developing countries, creating a win-win situation for all.

John Milligan-Whyte, chairman of the America China Partnership Foundation

The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

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