Promote High-Quality Belt and Road Cooperation*
April 26, 2019
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) aims to enhance connectivity and results-oriented cooperation. It is about working together to meet the challenges and risks that confront humanity, and delivering win-win outcomes and common development. Thanks to the efforts of all involved in this initiative, a general connectivity framework consisting of six corridors, six routes and multiple countries and ports has been created. A large number of cooperation projects have been launched, and the decisions of the First Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) have been smoothly implemented. More than 150 countries and international organizations have signed agreements on Belt and Road cooperation with China. There is greater synergy between the BRI and the plans or cooperation initiatives of international and regional organizations such as the United Nations, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the African Union, the European Union, and the Eurasian Economic Union, and between the BRI and the development strategies of the participating countries. From the Eurasian continent to Africa, the Americas and Oceania, Belt and Road cooperation has opened up new space for global economic growth, produced new platforms for international trade and investment, and offered new ways for improving global economic governance. Indeed, this initiative has helped improve people's lives in countries involved and created more opportunities for common prosperity. What we have achieved amply demonstrates that Belt and Road cooperation has both generated new opportunities for all participating countries and opened up new horizons for China's development and opening up.
An ancient Chinese philosopher observed that "plants with strong roots grow well, and efforts with the right focus ensure success"1. Belt and Road cooperation embraces the historic trend of economic globalization, responds to the call for improving the global governance system, and addresses people's desire for a better life. As our next step, we should focus on priorities and project execution, move forward with meticulous implementation, and join together to promote high-quality Belt and Road cooperation.
– We need to be guided by the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. We need to act in the spirit of multilateralism, pursue cooperation through consultation, and keep all participants motivated. We intend to tap into all the strengths of all participants through bilateral, trilateral or multilateral cooperation. As a Chinese proverb says, "A tower is composed of many a grain of sand, and a river is formed of many a stream."
– We need to take an open, green and clean approach. Belt and Road cooperation is not about establishing an exclusive club. It aims to promote green development. We should launch green infrastructure projects, make green investment, and provide green financing to protect the Earth which we all call home. In pursuing Belt and Road cooperation, everything should be done in a transparent way, and we should have zero tolerance for corruption. The Beijing Initiative for a Clean Silk Road that has been launched is for this very purpose, and manifests our strong commitment to transparency and clean governance in Belt and Road cooperation.
– We need to pursue high-standard cooperation to improve people's lives and promote sustainable development. We will apply widely accepted rules and standards and encourage participating companies to comply with general international rules and standards in building and operating projects and in the process of procurement, project bidding and tendering. The laws and regulations of participating countries should also be respected. We need to take a people-centered approach, give priority to poverty alleviation and job creation, and guarantee that Belt and Road cooperation will deliver true benefits to the people of participating countries and contribute to their social and economic development. We also need to ensure the commercial and fiscal sustainability of all projects so that they will achieve the intended goals as scheduled.
Connectivity is vital to Belt and Road cooperation. We need to promote a global partnership of connectivity to achieve common development and prosperity. I am confident that as we work closely together, we will transcend geographical distance and embark on a path of win-win cooperation.
Infrastructure is the bedrock of connectivity – it is the lack of infrastructure that has held up the development of many countries. High-quality, sustainable, resilient, affordable, inclusive and accessible infrastructure projects can help countries fully leverage their resources, better integrate into the global supply, industrial and value chains, and realize interconnected development. To this end, China will continue to work with other parties to build an infrastructure connectivity network, one that centers on the economic corridors such as the New Eurasian Land Bridge, and is connected by major transport routes, such as the China-Europe Railway Express and the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, and information expressways, and is underpinned by major railway, port and gas pipeline projects and underground power and telecommunications cable network. We will continue to make good use of the Belt and Road Special Lending Scheme, the Silk Road Fund, and other special investment funds. We will develop Silk Road theme bonds, and support the Multilateral Cooperation Center for Development Finance in its operation. We welcome the participation of multilateral and national financial institutions in BRI investment and financing and encourage third-market cooperation. With the involvement of multiple stakeholders, we can surely deliver benefits to all.
The flow of goods, capital, technology and people will power economic growth and create the broad space it needs. As a Chinese saying goes, "The ceaseless inflow of rivers makes the ocean deep."2 However, were such inflow to be cut, the ocean, however big, would eventually dry up. We need to facilitate free trade and investment, say no to protectionism, and make economic globalization more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial to all. To this end, we will enter into negotiations with more countries to conclude high-standard free trade agreements, and strengthen cooperation in customs, taxation and audit oversight by introducing the BRI Tax Administration Cooperation Mechanism and accelerating international collaboration on the mutual recognition of Authorized Economic Operators. We have formulated the Guiding Principles on Financing the Development of the Belt and Road and published the Debt Sustainability Framework for Participating Countries of the Belt and Road Initiative to provide guidance for BRI financing cooperation. In addition, the Second China International Import Expo will be held this year to provide an even bigger platform for other parties to access the Chinese market.
Innovation boosts productivity; it makes companies competitive and countries strong. We need to keep pace with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, jointly seize opportunities created by digital, networked and smart development, explore new technologies and new forms and models of business, foster new growth drivers and explore new development pathways, and build the digital Silk Road and the Silk Road of innovation. China will continue to implement the Belt and Road Science, Technology and Innovation Cooperation Action Plan, and will work with our partners to pursue four major initiatives, namely the Science and Technology People-to-People Exchange Initiative, the Joint Laboratory Initiative, the Science Park Cooperation Initiative, and the Technology Transfer Initiative. We will actively implement the BRI Talent Exchange Program, and will, in the coming five years, offer 5,000 opportunities of exchange, training and cooperative research for talented innovators from China and other BRI participating countries. We will also support companies from various countries in advancing ICT infrastructure to upgrade cyber connectivity.
Imbalance in development is the greatest imbalance confronting today's world. In the context of the BRI, we must always take a development-oriented approach and see that sustainability features in the entire process of project selection, implementation and management. We need to strengthen international development cooperation so as to create more opportunities for developing countries, and help them eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development. To this end, China and its partners have set up the Belt and Road Sustainable Cities Alliance and the BRI International Green Development Coalition, formulated the Green Investment Principles for the Belt and Road, and launched the Declaration on Accelerating the Sustainable Development Goals for Children Through Inclusive Development. We have set up the BRI Environmental Big Data Platform. We will continue to implement the Green Silk Road Envoys Program and work with relevant countries to jointly implement the Belt and Road South-South Cooperation Initiative on Climate Change. We will also expand cooperation in agriculture, health, disaster mitigation and water resources; and we will enhance cooperation with the United Nations to narrow the gap in development.
We need to build bridges for exchanges and mutual learning among cultures, expand cooperation in education, science, culture, sports, tourism, health and archeology, and strengthen exchanges between parliaments, political parties, NGOs, women, young people, and people with disabilities in order to facilitate multifaceted people-to-people exchanges. To this end, in the coming five years we will invite 10,000 representatives of political parties, think tanks and NGOs from BRI participating countries to visit China. We will encourage and support social organizations of BRI participating countries in jointly undertaking projects for improving people's lives. We will organize a number of environmental protection and anticorruption training courses, and expand human resources cooperation in various fields. We will continue to run the Chinese government scholarship Silk Road Program and host the International Youth Forum on Creativity and Heritage along the Silk Roads and the"Chinese Bridge" summer camps. We will also put in place new mechanisms such as the Belt and Road Think Tanks Cooperation Committee and the Belt and Road News Alliance to draw inspiration and pool our strengths.
* Part of the keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.
1 Liu Xiang: Garden of Stories (Shuo Yuan). Liu Xiang (77-6 BC) was a writer and bibliographer of the Western Han Dynasty.
2 Sima Qian: Records of the Historian (ShiJi). Sima Qian (c. 145 or 135-? BC) was a historian and writer of the Western Han Dynasty.
(Not to be republished for any commercial or other purposes.)