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Europe urged to 'grasp the chance of Belt and Road'

By Fu Jing in Paris | China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-16 06:58

French President Emmanuel Macron has urged Europe to "grasp the chance the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative" presents to better achieve connectivity and common prosperity in Eurasia, said former French prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin.

On Friday, Raffarin spoke of Macron's commitment at a conference in Paris organized by the Boao Forum for Asia in response to Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative Forum for International Cooperation in May, to which President Xi Jinping invited up to 30 state leaders.

"President Macron is highly aware of the significance of the Belt and Road Initiative and has been urging Europe to grasp the chance to cooperate with China", Raffarin said.

Macron was scheduled to meet late on Friday the Chinese delegation in Paris led by former vice-premier Zeng Peiyan, chairman of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges and vice-chairman of the board of directors of the Boao Forum for Asia.

Raffarin confirmed the European Union has great interest in the Belt and Road Initiative.

Now, four years after it was proposed by President Xi Jinping, it is high time, he said, for China and the European Union to expand cooperation in infrastructure construction, finance, investment and people-to-people exchanges under the umbrella of the proposal.

Zeng, in his keynote speech at the Paris conference, also called for close cooperation between China and Europe.

"East Asia and Western Europe are two driving forces of global development, and if they strengthen cooperation, common prosperity of development of Eurasia is achievable," Zeng said.

Zeng said that Xi devised the initiative as a new driving force for the global economy after the 2008-09 global financial crisis, because global economic growth remains slow, the wealth gap is still widening and regional conflicts remain rampant.

"Many countries and regions between Western Europe and East Asia urgently need to achieve development and peace and their people desire a better life," said Zeng. "Increased cooperation between China and EU can help remove the challenges facing the countries and regions."

Gerard Larcher, president of the French Senate, also recommended European involvement in the Belt and Road.

"This is a visionary global proposal, and I too urge European countries to offer their own development plans to match this proposal," Larcher said.

Larcher said China and France should explore the potential for improving infrastructure in Africa.

Echoing Larcher's proposal, Shao Gang, deputy general manager of China Tiesiju Civil Engineering Group, part of China Railway Construction Corp, said he has spoken with companies in France and Portugal to explore partnerships in Africa.

Shao said the Belt and Road has offered chances to "bring competitors together".

He suggested that Chinese and European civil engineering companies reshape the business models in Africa.

"I think very soon we can pool our resources to help improve the infrastructural situation in Africa," Shao said.                       

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