Wednesday, December 6

The Belt and Road Initiative: A Key Pillar of the Global Community of Shared Future (Part 6)

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Boosting the momentum for global development. The BRI has connected the vibrant East Asia economic circle at one end, the developed European economic circle at the other, and the countries in between with huge potential for economic development, and fostered closer economic cooperation with African and Latin American countries. It has formed a new global development dynamic in which the Eurasian continent is fully connected with the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans, and the land is integrated with the sea. It has expanded the scope and coverage of the international division of labor in a broader economic and geographical space, and enlarged the global market, which ultimately promoted new global economic growth.

At the same time, through infrastructure connectivity, the BRI has proved a catalyst to international investment and boosted global interest in and enthusiasm for investment in infrastructure, which provides economic growth and rapid development in participating countries. These efforts have effectively addressed the shortage of international public goods and provided sustained impetus for world economic growth.

Encouraging deeper regional economic cooperation. In strengthening infrastructure connectivity, the BRI promotes connectivity between countries in many directions and various fields. The BRI turns dots into lines and lines into fields, gradually amplifying the radiation effect of development. It encourages countries to coordinate economic policies, systems and mechanisms, and innovate cooperation models, conduct broader, deeper and closer regional cooperation, and jointly create an open, inclusive and balanced regional economic cooperation architecture that benefits all. It has facilitated a freer and more orderly flow of economic factors, more efficient allocation of resources, and deeper integration of markets, and upgraded economic and trade connectivity and vitality between countries and regions, and the overall position of participating countries in global industry chains, supply chains, and value chains.

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Participating countries have made full use of their own factor endowments to integrate, coordinate, and upgrade their industry chains, promote industrial complementarity, and improve the efficiency of division of labor. They have broken down trade barriers and market monopolies, unleashed internal and cross-border consumption potential, and expanded the scale of regional markets. Through technology transfer and cooperation in industrial cooperation, they have established technology interaction and interdependence, strengthened capacity for innovation, and promoted leapfrog development.

Promoting global trade. The BRI supports the liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment by building transport and information infrastructure in a planned and progressive manner. It has eliminated internal, transnational, and inter-regional transport bottlenecks and barriers to trade and investment cooperation, made cross-border logistics and foreign trade easier and more convenient, and increased the efficiency of domestic and international cooperation. It has built up an all-round, multi-level and complex network of unimpeded trade, creating a new dynamic and greatly facilitating global trade.

At the same time, the BRI has made participating countries more attractive to quality global capital, and contributed to rising direct cross-border investment in these countries. In 2022, cross-border direct investment inflows in Southeast Asia accounted for 17.2 percent of the global total, 9 percentage points higher than in 2013. The inflow of FDI into Kazakhstan grew by a historical high of 83 percent year on year. 

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World Bank study – “Belt and Road Economics: Opportunities and Risks of Transport Corridors” – estimates that prior to the BRI, the six corridor economies undertrade with each other and the rest of the world by 30 percent on average and they fall short of their absorptive potential of FDI by 70 percent. Transport infrastructure projects under the BRI would reduce trade costs for the world by 1.8 percent, and reduce trade costs along the China-Central Asia-West Asia economic corridor by 10 percent. This has greatly facilitated global trade and boosted economic growth. The study projects that trade growth would range between 2.8 and 9.7 percent for corridor economies and between 1.7 and 6.2 percent worldwide, and global real income is expected to increase by 0.7 to 2.9 percent.

Maintaining the stability of global supply chains. An efficient and interconnected international transport corridor established under the BRI framework plays an important role in maintaining the stability and smooth flow of global supply chains.

During the Covid-19 outbreak, ports and logistics companies canceled or reduced services for shipping and freight transport, which had dealt a hard blow to those global supply chains which were highly dependent on shipping.

Panel 5?China-Laos Railway turns land-locked Laos into a land-linked country

The China-Laos Railway is an electrified railway directly connecting Kunming City of China with Vientiane City of Laos. It is the first transnational railway built under the BRI, funded mainly by Chinese investment, operated jointly by the two sides, and connected directly with China’s railway network. The 1,035-km-long railway officially opened for business on December 3, 2021. On April 13, 2023, the China-Laos Railway started cross-border passenger services, with bullet trains running directly in both directions between Kunming and Vientiane.

As an important part of the central section of the pan-Asia railway network, the China-Laos Railway has helped Laos to realize its long-cherished dream of becoming a land-linked country from a landlocked one. It has promoted transport, investment, logistics and tourism, and injected new impetus into the economic development of Laos and areas along the line. By August 31, 2023, the railway had recorded a total of 20.79 million passenger trips and carried 25.22 million tonnes of cargo. It has become a safe and efficient international passageway connecting Laos with its neighboring countries and regions and generating mutual benefits.

The China-Laos Railway is a project that wins the heart of the people and an example of clean management. The leaders of China and Laos reached an important agreement on making the China-Laos Railway a clean project. The discipline inspection and supervision departments of the two countries established a government-level supervision and coordination mechanism, and the enterprises involved in construction had taken incorruptibility as a top priority from project design and deployment through to implementation and review. Effective systems were in place to enforce this principle throughout construction, and new methods of cooperation to fight corruption were tested. Through the efforts of both parties, the China-Laos Railway has become a road of friendship, integrity and happiness.

According to a World Bank study – “From Landlocked to Land-Linked: Unlocking the Potential of Lao-China Rail Connectivity” – the China-Laos Railway could raise Laos’ aggregate income by up to 21 percent over the long term. The transit trade through Laos along the line is estimated to reach 3.9 million tonnes per year by 2030, which would include a shift of an estimated 1.5 million tonnes of trade from maritime transport to the railway.

As a key output of BRI cooperation, the China-Europe Railway Express effectively sustained rail connectivity on the Eurasian continent, boosted sea-rail, road-rail, air-rail, and other forms of multi-modal transport, and opened up a new transport corridor for the Eurasian continental supply chain. Together with the innovations in customs clearance such as the Customs-Train Operators Partnership for Secure and Expedited Clearance of CR Express Carried Goods (C-TOP), Rapid Customs Clearance for rail service, China made an important contribution to stabilizing the global economy.

Several well-known international logistics associations have stated publicly that the China-Europe Railway Express has provided the world with a reliable logistics solution that can effectively alleviate tensions in the global supply chain and strengthen international logistics.

3. Providing new solutions for improving global governance

The deficit in global governance presents a severe challenge to the whole world. The BRI supports genuine multilateralism, and cherishes shared growth through consultation and collaboration in global governance. It advocates dialogue rather than confrontation, removing walls rather than erecting walls, integration rather than decoupling, and inclusiveness rather than exclusion. This is a new paradigm for state-to-state relations that shapes the international order towards greater justice and equality.

Gaining more recognition for the concept of global governance. The BRI’s core principles of “extensive consultation, joint contribution, and shared benefits” have appeared in important documents from international organizations and mechanisms, including the UN and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.

The vision of a global community of shared future has developed deep roots. A number of bilateral communities have been built between China and other countries, including Laos and Pakistan. Steady progress has been made in building multilateral communities, including those between China and Africa, the Arab States, Latin America, ASEAN, Central Asia and Pacific Island countries. Practical results have been achieved in building communities in functional areas, including cyber space, maritime cooperation, and health for all.

According to the China’s National Image Global Survey released by the Academy of Contemporary China and World Studies in 2020, the BRI is the Chinese proposal with the highest level of acceptance overseas, with more than 70 percent of respondents recognizing the positive impact of the BRI on individuals, states and global governance. European think tank Bruegel released a paper titled “Global Trends in Countries’ Perceptions of the Belt and Road Initiative” in April 2023, which noted that the BRI is generally positively received in the world, and Central Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, exhibit strongly positive sentiment towards the BRI.

Improving multilateral governance mechanisms. The BRI upholds the principles of mutual respect and equality, openness, inclusiveness, and win-win results. It enshrines multilateralism by securing international fairness and justice, and protecting the rights and interests of developing countries.

The BRI helps improve the existing multilateral governance mechanisms by firmly upholding the authority and status of the UN, and striving to consolidate and strengthen the stature and effectiveness of global multilateral governance platforms such as the WTO. It actively promotes new multilateral governance mechanisms such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and works with participating parties to promote governance mechanisms in emerging areas such as the deep sea, polar regions, outer space, internet and artificial intelligence.

The BRI has strengthened the position and role of developing countries and emerging economies in the world market system, and increased their discourse power in regional and global economic governance. As a result, the aspirations and concerns of developing countries are increasingly included in the global agenda – a significant improvement in global governance.

Innovating and optimizing global governance rules. Taking into account the differences in the level of economic development, factor endowments, and cultural and religious traditions of relevant parties, the BRI has not preset any rules and standards, nor does it draw ideological lines. Instead, it formulates new rules to solve new problems through full consultation and in-depth exchanges, based on the wishes and needs of the parties involved.

BRI participating countries seek synergy in their strategies, plans, mechanisms, projects, and rules and standards, which helps to optimize the rules for BRI cooperation, and supports the transition from opening up based on the flow of goods and factors of production to opening up based on rules and related institutions. Some rules and standards with strong potential for universal application have been formulated in this process, which has effectively filled in gaps in the global governance system in these areas.

4. Garnering strength for the progress of human civilization

Exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations drive human progress and global peace and development. In contrast to those who persist with black and white thinking, concoct such concepts as the “clash of civilizations” and “superiority of Western civilization”, and provoke large-scale ideological confrontation, the BRI advocates equality, mutual learning, dialogue, and inclusiveness among civilizations, and promotes the shared values of humanity. It has charted a path of exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations for all to prosper individually and?collectively, in order to achieve closer ties among peoples and link up the cultures and hearts of all countries.

Improving the mechanisms for people-to-people exchanges. People-to-people exchanges cover a wide range of areas, including politics, culture, the arts, sports, and education. The global influence of various multilateral and bilateral political party exchange mechanisms has increased with the creation of mechanisms such as the CPC and World Political Parties Summit, and the CPC in Dialogue with World Political Parties High-level Meeting. The leading role of high-level inter-party exchanges garners consensus and strengths for stronger people-to-people ties.

Various BRI cooperation mechanisms have emerged, including the Silk Road Think Tank Association, the Belt and Road Initiative Tax Administration Cooperation Mechanism, the ANSO, the Belt and Road Health Professionals Development Alliance, the Silk Road International League of Theaters, and the Silk Road International Museum Alliance. The emergence of such mechanisms has facilitated people-to-people exchanges in diverse forms, promoting mutual understanding, mutual respect, and mutual appreciation among the peoples of all countries.

China, Kyrgyzstan, Iran and other Central and West Asian countries jointly launched the Alliance for Cultural Heritage in Asia – the first international cooperation mechanism regarding Asian cultural heritage – to protect cultural heritage, the tangible carriers of civilization. The projects under the framework of the alliance, for example the protection and restoration of Uzbekistan’s ancient city of Khiva, have been highly commended by UNESCO.

Source: The State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China