Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Silk Road initiative to connect people's hearts

By Li Xiguang (China Daily) Updated: 2015-04-08 07:39

Silk Road initiative to connect people's hearts

More than 500 delegates and entrepreneurs from countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt attended the China-EU Rail Logistics Forum Multi-communication, in Zhengzhou, capital of Central China's Henan province, Friday. [Photo by Xiang Mingchao/provided to]

Today's world has two major economic zones: the Pacific economic zone and the Atlantic economic zone. But with the development and prosperity of the Silk Road Economic Belt, China and the Muslim-majority countries along the belt will become the world's most important economic zone. The 57 Muslim countries along the President Xi Jinping-proposed Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Maritime Century Silk Road account for one-fifth of the world's population, 70 percent of the world's energy and 50 percent of the natural resources. Added to this is the economic vitality of China, which is expected to become the world's largest economy in the coming decade.

But the Silk Road Economic Belt also faces some serious security problems. Geographically, Islamic countries occupy the most sensitive parts of the world, and control the strategic land and sea transport hubs. How then can the safety of the Silk Road Economic Belt be ensured?

The United States uses its military power and military bases around the world to defend its global status and the power of the dollar. But China's military spending is only one-sixth of the US. So how can China protect its hundreds of billions of dollars of investment on highways, railways, power stations and other infrastructure projects along the "Belt and Road" routes, which make up two-thirds of the world's landmass? The Middle East has been caught in wars and chaos over the past more than one decade. It has suffered the consequences of the American invasion of Iraq and the "Arab Spring", which resulted in enormous loss to China in Libya, Syria, Sudan and Iraq.

Beijing does not need military power or military bases to protect the Belt and Road Initiative, because China and the Islamic countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt can work together to build a new world of tolerance, harmony and peaceful coexistence. As Xi has suggested, the Belt and Road project should be built as a road of unity and mutual trust, a road of equality and mutual benefit, a road of tolerance and win-win cooperation. It will be an economic belt along which countries of different ethnic groups and beliefs live in peace and develop together. Xi has set five goals in the building of the Belt and Road project: connection of policies, roads, trade, currencies and people's hearts.

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