The Belt and Road Initiative: A Public Road for Win-Win Cooperation
Ambassador Cong Peiwu Publishes a Signed Article on Belt and Road Initiative on CCBC’s Website
23 June 2021
To understand China’s opening-up and economic diplomacy, it is essential to understand the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Since I came to Canada, I have found that many Canadian friends are quite interested in the BRI while some have many questions, even misunderstandings of it. For this reason, I would like to make some introductions here.
First, is the Belt and Road Initiative a geopolitical tool?
Some people believe that the BRI is China’s geopolitical tool aimed at seeking political interests, but this is completely wrong. The BRI is a platform for economic cooperation, not a geopolitical tool. More than 2000 years ago, the ancient silk routes opened windows of friendly engagement among nations, adding a splendid chapter to the history of human progress. The ancient silk routes embody the spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit. Faced with the new historical conditions, the BRI is to carry forward the spirit of the Silk Road and to link up China’s development with the development of countries along the route and other countries in the world. It aims to promote a global partnership of connectivity and realize common development by enhancing policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity.
The BRI is an initiative that is completely open and above board. It has followed the principles of openness, inclusiveness and transparency, and of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. Over the past several years, the BRI has been turned from vision to action and from concept to consensus, and has gained a broader network of friends. China has signed more than 200 cooperation documents on the BRI with more than 170 countries and international organizations. The BRI and its core value have been written into the relevant documents of the United Nations, the G20, APEC and other regional organizations. All of these have proved that the BRI has become the most well-received international public good and the largest platform for international cooperation.
Second, is the Belt and Road Initiative a white elephant?
Some people accuse the BRI of being a white elephant and offering empty promises, and causing partner countries to fall into debt traps. These claims are obviously untenable. The BRI meets the trend of world development and the common interest of people worldwide. It is not a talk shop, but has yielded tangible results through concrete actions, and has written many vivid stories of common development.
Over the past seven years, the trade volume of goods between China and BRI participating countries has surpassed 9 trillion US dollars. China’s direct foreign investment to participating countries has reached 136 billion US dollars. Those countries have set up about 27,000 enterprises in China, with a cumulative actual investment of 59.9 billion US dollars. China has jointly carried out more than 2,000 cooperation projects with participating countries. Thanks to the BRI, East Africa now has its first motorway, the Maldives has built its first inter-island bridge, Kazakhstan is connected to the sea, Southeast Asia is constructing a high-speed railway, and the Eurasian continent is benefiting from the longest-distance freight train service. Facing the COVID-19 pandemic, BRI participating countries helped each other, effectively alleviating the shortage of medical supplies. Not a single BRI partner country has agreed with the claim of so-called “debt traps”. The debt issue, in essence, is an issue of underdevelopment.
Third, what does the Belt and Road Initiative mean to Canada?
Some Canadian friends think that the ancient Silk Road and Canada are oceans apart, so the BRI does not have much to do with Canada. This is not true. The BRI is an important opportunity for Canada. As President Xi Jinping has said, BRI is meant to build not China’s own backyard, but a garden shared by all countries. Canada has unique advantages in areas such as finance, energy, aviation, green development, new urbanization. China welcomes Canada to participate in the Belt and Road cooperation and is willing to actively carry out bilateral cooperation and third-party market cooperation with Canada in the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. It shall benefit both the people of the two countries and the rest of the world.
The Canada China Business Council (CCBC) which founded in 1978 is a bilateral non-profit organization with seven offices in both Canada and China. CCBC provides the knowledge and connections for the members to succeed in China and Canada for over 40 years. Now CCBC provides services and support to more than 300 member organizations.