Business / Economy

Belt and Road plan 'open' to all nations

By MU CHEN (China Daily) Updated: 2015-04-17 09:18

Officials reiterated on Thursday that the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiatives will be "open" to all nations and are not limited by geography.

The commitment was made by top government officials at a briefing for foreign diplomats and company representatives held jointly by the International Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the National Development and Reform Commission, the nation's economic planner.

"The initiatives are open to all and countries that are interested in the initiatives can participate in them. What China has offered is only the vision," said Ou Xiaoli, deputy director-general of the Department of Western Region Development at the NDRC.

Recent reports had indicated that about 60 countries are so far involved in the "Belt and Road" initiatives. This had led to confusion about the participation policy and whether there was an official list of partner countries.

Ou said that although the initiatives include three potential routes from the Pacific Ocean to the Baltic Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean, they remain inclusive in nature.

The number of around 60 is only the count of countries that have responded positively and eagerly since the initiatives were first raised and will increase or decrease depending on their success, he said.

The clarification was welcomed by countries that do not lie along the three paths.

Paul Kavanagh, Ireland's ambassador to China, said: "The big message that came across is that the initiatives are open ones and are not confined to countries with a specific proximate geography, a specific historical circumstance or a specific economic situation, which includes Ireland."

"If we continue to pursue our bilateral agenda on political, economic and cultural terms, we will be fulfilling the aims and objectives of the Belt and Road initiatives," he said.

For Peru, the initiatives are ones that look to the future and can be expected to go much further than the historic scope of the Silk Road, which might one day extend across the Pacific Ocean, said Juan-Miguel Miranda, minister counselor at the Embassy of Peru.

Zhang Yansheng, secretary-general of the academic committee of the NDRC, had played down similar concerns from foreign companies not geographically involved in the initiatives, notably those from the United States and Japan.

Zhang said that the foreign companies, which took part in China's transition from planned to market economy 35 years ago, are welcome to be a part of China's transition to a "new normal" of slower and more sustainable growth. They can also partner with China as its new opening-up expands to the developing countries and emerging economies with the new initiatives

The "Belt and Road Initiative", first put forward by President Xi Jinping in September 2013, has made significant headway with the unveiling of its framework and priorities last month.

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