World leaders including heads of state and government, and heads of international organisations gathered on October 18 in Beijing for the third Belt and Road Forum (BRF) for International Cooperation under the theme, “Building an Open, Inclusive and Interconnected World for Common Development”.
Chinese President and BRF host Xi Jinping made the keynote address. He started by noting that this year marks the 10th anniversary of his brainchild, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The BRI, drawing inspiration from the ancient Silk Road and focusing on enhancing connectivity, aims to enhance policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity, inject new impetus into the global economy, create new opportunities for global development, and build a new platform for international economic cooperation.
Belt and Road cooperation has extended from the Eurasian continent to Africa and Latin America. More than 150 countries and over 30 international organisations have signed Belt and Road cooperation documents. In addition, over 20 specialised multilateral cooperation platforms have been established under the BRI.
Belt and Road cooperation has expanded from physical connectivity to institutional connectivity. Important guiding principles for high-quality Belt and Road cooperation have been laid down. These include the principle of “planning together, building together, and benefiting together,” the philosophy of open, green and clean cooperation, and the goal of pursuing high-standard, people-centered and sustainable cooperation.
The BRI has endeavoured to build a global network of connectivity consisting of economic corridors, international transportation routes and information highway as well as railways, roads, airports, ports, pipelines and power grids. This intercontinental network has boosted the flow of goods, capital, technologies and human resources among countries involved, and injected fresh vitality into the millennia-old Silk Road.
Hydro, wind and solar energy based power plants, oil and gas pipelines, and the increasingly smart and interconnected power transmission networks are removing development barriers caused by energy shortage and fulfilling the dream of developing countries to achieve green and low-carbon development. Brand new airports and harbours, smooth roads, and newly built industrial parks for business cooperation have created new economic corridors and new growth drivers, and have become the trading routes and staging posts of the new era.
When COVID-19 struck, the Belt and Road became a life-saving road. China provided more than 10 billion masks and 2.3 billion doses of vaccines to other countries and jointly produced vaccines with over 20 countries, making a special contribution to BRI partners’ efforts in fighting the pandemic. China also received valuable support from more than 70 countries when it was hit hard by the pandemic.
Belt and Road cooperation is based on the principle of “planning together, building together, and benefiting together.” It transcends differences between civilizations, cultures, social systems, and stages of development. It has opened up a new path for exchanges among countries, and established a new framework for international cooperation. Indeed, the BRI represents humanity’s joint pursuit of development for all.
Through Belt and Road cooperation, China is opening its door even wider to the world. China’s market has become even more closely integrated with the global market. China has become a main trading partner of more than 140 countries and territories, and a primary source of investment for more countries.
Changes of the world, of our times, and of historical significance are unfolding like never before. Global modernisation should be pursued to enhance peaceful development and mutually beneficial cooperation and bring prosperity to all. President Xi spelt out an eight-point plan for the BRI’s next 10 years.
First, building a multidimensional Belt and Road connectivity network. China will vigorously integrate ports, shipping and trading services under the “Silk Road Maritime,” and accelerate the building of the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor and the Air Silk Road.
Second, supporting an open world economy. China will establish pilot zones for Silk Road e-commerce cooperation, enter into free trade agreements and investment protection treaties with more countries. The country will remove all restrictions on foreign investment access in the manufacturing sector. In light of international high-standard economic and trade rules, we will further advance high-standard opening up in cross-border service trade and investment, expand market access for digital and other products, and deepen reform in areas including the state-owned enterprises, digital economy, intellectual property and government procurement.
Third, China will promote both signature projects and “small yet smart” livelihood programmes. The China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China will each set up a RMB 350 billion financing window. An additional RMB 80 billion will be injected into the Silk Road Fund. Together, they will support BRI projects on the basis of market and business operation.
Fourth, promoting green development. China will continue to deepen cooperation in areas such as green infrastructure, green energy and green transportation, and step up support for the BRI International Green Development Coalition. China will continue to hold the BRI Green Innovation Conference, and establish dialogue and exchange mechanisms for the solar industry and a network of experts on green and low-carbon development.
Fifth, advancing scientific and technological innovation. China will continue to implement the Belt and Road Science, Technology and Innovation Cooperation Action Plan, and hold the first Belt and Road Conference on Science and Technology Exchange. At the BRF, China proposed the Global Initiative for Artificial Intelligence (AI) Governance.
Sixth, supporting people-to-people exchanges. China will host the Liangzhu Forum to enhance dialogue on civilizations with BRI partner countries. In addition to the Silk Road International League of Theaters, the Silk Road International Arts Festival, the International Alliance of Museums of the Silk Road, the Silk Road International Alliance of Art Museums, and the Silk Road International Library Alliance that have been set up, China has also launched the International Tourism Alliance of Silk Road Cities. And we will continue with the Chinese government scholarship Silk Road Program.
Seventh, promoting integrity-based Belt and Road cooperation. Together with its cooperation partners, China will release the Achievements and Prospects of Belt and Road Integrity Building and the High-Level Principles on Belt and Road Integrity Building, and establish the Integrity and Compliance Evaluation System for Companies Involved in Belt and Road Cooperation.
Eighth, strengthening institutional building for international Belt and Road cooperation. China will work with its BRI partner countries to strengthen the building of multilateral cooperation platforms covering energy, taxation, finance, green development, disaster reduction, anti-corruption, think tank, media, culture and other fields.