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China-proposed BRI helps nations improve governance, scholars say

By ZHANG ZHOUXIANG and LIU XIA | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-12-08 10:00
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The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative not only benefits participating nations by offering them technology and investment for infrastructure upgrades, but also serves as a platform for them to share China's experiences in improving governance, scholars and experts said.

"Governance and the Belt and Road Initiative are fundamentally linked," said Josef Gregory Mahoney, associate editor of the US-based Journal of Chinese Political Science and a professor of politics and international relations at East China Normal University.

The Chinese leadership lays huge emphasis on governance, so much so that the two watchwords of the administration are governance and improving governance, he said, adding that it would be impossible for the BRI to advance "if China had not done such a good job in reforming and improving its own governance".

Hu Biliang, executive dean of the Belt and Road School at Beijing Normal University, said: "Governance is a much broader concept than the other elements that often appear in reports and academic research. By the word governance, we mean a whole system of arrangements, including planning, consultation, implementation, management and evaluation."

China is sharing this whole system with countries and regions involved in the BRI, "improving the conditions for all", he added.

Highlighting the joint building of the Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway, which was officially launched on Oct 2, Hu said the two countries cooperated closely on planning and building the railway, and the whole project was managed by a joint team.

China's experiences in designing, building and managing high-speed trains played an indispensable role in the entire process, he noted.

Hu added that cooperation programs under the BRI framework have helped China and other participating countries and regions achieve win-win results, and governance in relevant countries and regions has also improved.

Robert Walker, an emeritus fellow at Oxford University's Green Templeton College and a professor at the School of Sociology at Beijing Normal University, said the experiences of China's governance have been well shared via the joint building of the Belt and Road.

The BRI has become "a public good that we can all use", Walker said. "It's a process of global sharing, a response to a global need, a response to what will hopefully become a legal expectation and responsibility."

Jiang Xiaojuan, president of the China Society for Industrial Economics and former deputy secretary-general of the State Council, said, "China is modernizing, and we have reached a new stage where we need modernized governance that matches our own modernization process."

She said the nation has proposed the corresponding governance requirements in its modernization stage.

Mahoney, the associate editor, said that China's good and efficient governance has much to do with its rich traditional culture, which is "extremely enlightening and compelling".

"There is something that we can learn from Confucius or Lao Tze. How these (principles) have been instrumentally valuable for China through the generations, and how they intersect positively with Marxism and provide a strong foundation for the development of Chinese Marxism," he said.

Mahoney also spoke highly of China's governance and the sharing of ideas and experiences.

"These are things that can be universalized as part of a broader human experience, without consigning ourselves to a very narrow, self-serving model of the West, perpetuating through centuries as a global power," he said.

Fan Ziqi and Jin Yiling contributed to this story.

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