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Great Exploration and Practice of Building a Community of Common Destiny for All Mankind (Belt and Road Forum)

Submit Time:01-06-2017 | Zoom In | Zoom Out

Author:Pan Shengzhou | Source:People's Daily

Abstract:

Promoting the construction of the "Silk Road Economic Belt" and the "21st Century Maritime Silk Road" (hereinafter referred to as the Belt and Road) was a great idea articulated by Xi Jinping during his visit to Central Asia and Southeast Asia in September and October 2013, respectively. It is a major decision made by the CPC Central Committee around the promotion of opening up and international cooperation, in coping with the profound changes in the international situation as well as the new situation, new task and new requirement confronting China's development. Over the past period of more than three years since its introduction, the Belt and Road Initiative, from conceptualization to people-to-people bonds, from top-down design to project implementation, has seen fruitful cooperation and had a significant impact worldwide quickly.   

Core essence of the Belt and Road construction   

Although the Belt and Road construction uses a historical and cultural symbol — the ancient Silk Road, it neither revitalizes nor replicates the ancient Silk Road, but represents a great innovation under the new historical conditions. The following three aspects should be noted for an in-depth grasp of its core essence. 

Purpose and idea of promoting the Belt and Road construction. On September 7, 2013, Xi Jinping said when delivering an important speech at Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan, "To forge closer economic ties, deepen cooperation and expand development space in the Eurasian region, we should take an innovative approach and jointly build the 'Silk Road Economic Belt.' To turn this into a reality, we may start with work in individual areas and link them up over time to cover the whole region." On March 28, 2015, Xi Jinping pointed out in his keynote speech at the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2015, "In promoting this initiative, China will follow the principle of wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. The programs of development will be open and inclusive, not exclusive. They will be a real chorus comprising all countries along the routes, not a solo for China itself." On September 3, 2016, Xi Jinping once again stated in his keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the B20 China 2016, "I have proposed the initiative of building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road to share China's development opportunities with countries along the Belt and Road and achieve common prosperity." The Belt and Road Initiative is about openness, development and cooperation, and stresses wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. It calls for pursuing policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bonds, and seeks the "biggest common denominator" for development, in order to achieve common prosperity among countries along the Belt and Road. As the Belt and Road construction is concerned, China follows the principle of wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, as well as the Silk Road Spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit. The initiative has gradually become a common dream of people from countries along the Belt and Road, with the cooperative target of creating a community of common destiny and a community of common interests.   

Framework of promoting the Belt and Road construction. On April 29, 2016, at the 31st collective learning of the Central Politburo of the CPC on the ancient Silk Road and the Maritime Silk Road, Xi Jinping stressed that we must use innovative ideas and innovative thinking to perform down-to-earth work with a higher position and broader vision on the basis of drawing on historical experience, in order to make people from countries along the Belt and Road truly enjoy the benefits brought about by the initiative. To promote the Belt and Road construction, it is necessary to properly handle the relationship between China's interests and the interests of the countries along the Belt and Road, the relationship among government, market and society, the relationship between economic & trade cooperation and cultural exchange, and the relationship between opening up and safeguarding national security, the relationship between down-to-earth advancing and public opinion guidance, and the relationship between the country's overall goal and local governments' specific targets. To advance the Belt and Road construction, the government should not only play a role in navigation and coordination, but also give full play to the role of the market. In addition, the government should play a leading role in popularizing the initiative, strengthening coordination and establishing relevant mechanisms. Further, the government should build a regional economic cooperation mechanism based on the market with enterprises as main players, mobilize all kinds of enterprises to participate in the Belt and Road construction, and encourage more social forces to be involved in the construction, in a bid to form a cooperation model featuring organic combination of government, market and society and shape a three-dimensional pattern in which the government leads the construction, the enterprises participate in the construction, and the society promotes the construction. 

Main tasks of promoting the Belt and Road construction. On June 22, 2016, Xi Jinping delivered an important speech at the Legislative Chamber of the Supreme Assembly of Uzbekistan in Tashkent, proposing to build a Belt and Road mutually beneficial cooperation network, jointly establish a new Belt and Road cooperation pattern, forge a Belt and Road cooperative platform with multi-element, and promote Belt and Road projects in key areas so as to push forward the Belt and Road construction to a higher level and broader space. On August 17, 2016, Xi Jinping pointed out at the Symposium on Advancing the Belt and Road Construction, "To advance the Belt and Road construction, we should effectively promote the land and maritime coordination, the domestic and international coordination, and the government and enterprise coordination. We should encourage domestic enterprises to invest in the countries along the Belt and Road, and enterprises from countries along the Belt and Road should be welcomed to China for investment and business promotion. We should strengthen the alignment of the Belt and Road construction with the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Integration Initiative, the Yangtze Economic Belt Initiative and other national strategies, as well as the combination of the Belt and Road construction with the western development, the revitalization of Northeast China, the rise of Central China, the leading development East China, and the development and opening up of borders, so as to shape an enabling situation featuring all-round opening up and the linking development between central and western regions. We should focus on policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bonds. With focus on building the mutually beneficial cooperation network, the new cooperation pattern and the cooperative platform with multi-element, we should work together to build a green silk road, a healthy silk road, an intelligent silk road and a peaceful silk road. Adhering to the spirit of driving the nail, we should push forward the Belt and Road construction step by step and make it benefit all the people from countries along the Belt and Road."   

Great significance of the Belt and Road construction   

The Belt and Road construction is a top-down design to build China's new system of open economy, a major endeavor to achieve the Chinese Dream of great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, a program provided by China's for the world that reflects oriental wisdom and achieves common prosperity and development, and a great exploration and practice of building a community of common destiny for all mankind. 

It is conducive to maintaining the steady and healthy development of the Chinese economy. After nearly 40 years of reform and opening up, the Chinese economy has undergone a major shift from focus on the "bringing in" strategy to equal emphasis on the "going global" strategy and the "bringing in" strategy, leading to a new situation featuring in-depth external integration of market, resources and investment. The advancement of the Belt and Road construction facilitates domestic and international interaction and cooperation as well as mutual promotion of opening to the domestic market and opening to the outside world, allows better use of international and domestic markets and resources, further boosts China's economic transformation and upgrading, and helps drive the regional balanced development of our country. The western region is a weak link for the development of our country and a key and difficult area for building a well-off society in an all-round way. The Belt and Road construction changes the position of the western region from a worst-served area to a best-served area through expanding the opening to the west. Development driven by opening up can accelerate the pace of development in the western region and boost the echeloned and linked progress of eastern, central and western regions.   

It is conducive to creating and sharing development opportunities together with surrounding countries. China has 14 neighbors on the land and six neighbors across the sea. From the perspective of geographical position, natural environment and interrelationship, the neighboring countries and China are close to each other geographically and intimate in their people-to-people bonds, and enjoy similar cultural backgrounds. Strengthening cooperation is of important significance to one another. The Belt and Road construction puts emphasis on the alignment of development strategies and plans, policy coordination, infrastructure connectivity, and cultural exchange and interaction, between China and countries along the Belt and Road. It strengthens the interest ties of one another, and enhances cooperation in education, culture, tourism, sports, health, and science and technology. The Belt and Road construction can not only make China's development benefit more to neighboring countries and achieve common development, but also enhance China's affinity and influence in the participation in international cooperation and create a peaceful and stable surrounding environment for domestic development. 

It is conducive to stable growth and rebalancing of the world economy. With priority in Asian countries, the Belt and Road construction relies on land and maritime economic cooperation corridors, and runs through Eurasia, connecting the Asia-Pacific economic circle in the east and the European economic circle in the west. It involves more than 60 countries, a population of more than 4.4 billion, and GDP size of more than 21 trillion US dollars, known as the world's emerging economic belt with the largest span and the most extensive coverage. In recent years, due to the international financial crisis, the world economy has continued to slump, showing a trend of low growth and low international trade flow. Although China's economic growth slowed down, it maintained medium-to-high growth and was situated on the front row among the world's major economies, thereby becoming an important engine driving world economic growth. In 2016, China's economic growth contributed 33.2% to the world economic growth. Seizing the opportunity of the Belt and Road construction to carry out cross-border interconnection, improve trade and investment cooperation levels and promote cooperation in international production capacity and equipment manufacturing, in essence, amounts to engendering new demands by increasing effective supplies, which is conductive to stabilizing and rebalancing the world economy. In particular, the Belt and Road construction puts emphasis on the interconnection of economic and trade rules, and advocates considering countries' claims and demands in an open and inclusive attitude, which is conducive to improving the world market mechanism, reducing trade costs, improving the efficiency of the world market, and driving the countries' economic growth.   

It is conducive to building a community of common destiny for all mankind. The Belt and Road Initiative is a path of win-win cooperation that promotes common development and achieves common prosperity, and a platform of peaceful friendship for us to enhance understanding and trust and strengthen all-round exchanges. The Belt and Road construction is neither a challenge against nor an alternative to the existing international cooperation mechanisms. On the contrary, the Belt and Road Initiative and existing mechanisms promote and complement each other. It is a "Chinese program" that is targeted at the bottlenecks and constraints in international cooperation, and infuses positive energy to the world economy through the concept of openness, cooperation and win-win result. With focus on policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bonds, the Belt and Road construction combines the development of China with the development of countries along the Belt and Road, and links the Chinese dream to the world dream, so as to promote the interactive development and deepen economic integration among countries along the Belt and Road. In this process, the countries will form a community of interests, which will lay a foundation for the creation of a community of common destiny for all mankind.   

Widespread concern and response from the international community regarding the Belt and Road construction 

For more than three years, the Belt and Road Initiative has been widely welcomed by all parties and received extensive response. National governments, international organizations and experts and scholars have spoken highly of the Belt and Road Initiative, holding that it is conducive to promoting economic prosperity and regional economic cooperation among countries along the Belt and Road. The United Nations hoped to combine the Belt and Road construction with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in an effort to ensure orderly Belt and Road construction. "When the world's multilateralism is challenged, the Belt and Road Initiative emerges at the right moment," said United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Ms. Amina Mohammed. Italian President Sergio Mattarella said that China's Belt and Road Initiative is a new development opportunity for the whole world and benefits all countries and regions along the Belt and Road. Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd pointed out that the Belt and Road Initiative is a new long march China is embarking on to go global. On the one hand, it helps Eurasia return to the world center; on the one hand, it facilitates the economic development of China's surrounding areas, and solves the imbalance in China's domestic development as well as the imbalance in the regional development of Eurasia. Сергей Петрович Савинский[CC1] , Chief Researcher at the Institute of Fiscal Studies [CC2] of the Russian Ministry of Finance, believed that now the people of the world have seen that the Belt and Road construction is an open, fair and pragmatic platform that allows countries along the Belt and Road to enjoy development benefits. It is particularly important that the Belt and Road construction ensures comprehensive and new development. While promoting infrastructure construction and industrial development, it takes into account all aspects of culture, science and technology, and environment. This endeavor allows countries along the Belt and Road to enjoy the modernization results earlier and better. Nobel economics laureate Joseph Stiglitz, former Vice President and Chief Economist of the World Bank, said that the Belt and Road Initiative has made a very important contribution to the promotion of economic globalization, and many countries, especially those which are impoverished and neglected, are included. To help them achieve connection with the world economy is a good way to advance economic globalization. 

The Belt and Road Initiative has drawn extensive attention from foreign media. AU123.COM published an article titled "China's New Thought Opens up a 'New Silk Road' for Diplomacy" on September 16, 2013, saying that in the long run, the initiative to jointly build the Silk Road Economic Belt will not only benefit Central Asia, but will inevitably change the entire world economic pattern. The Silk Road Economic Belt is a major strategic, global and innovative diplomatic arrangement in China, which reflects the political wisdom and new diplomatic idea of China's new-generation top leadership. ABC Spanish Daily Newspaper published an article on November 25, 2014, arguing that the "New Silk Road" has laid a foundation for China's new role in the international community. The opening of the YXE International Container Train marks a milestone in the history of rail transport, connecting the eastern end of Asia to the western end of Europe and rejuvenating the commercial spirit of the Silk Road. Public opinions in Pakistan, Russia and other countries generally held that, as the world's "best globalization development model" today, the Belt and Road Initiative is very important for their own economic cooperation with foreign countries.   

Positive results achieved in the Belt and Road construction 

At present, planning and layout of the Belt and Road construction have been initially completed, and the subsequent stage of practical implementation, intensive work and sustainable development is coming. As Xi Jinping said at the opening ceremony of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting on January 17, 2017, "The Belt and Road Initiative originated in China, but it has delivered benefits well beyond its borders."  

The Belt and Road construction has promoted the alignment of development strategies and complementary advantages among countries along the Belt and Road. With the continuous development of the Belt and Road construction, more and more countries have begun to align the Belt and Road construction with their own development strategies, such as Laos' strategy of "shift from a landlocked country into a land-linked nation", Kazakhstan's "Nurly Zhol" (The Bright Road) Initiative, South Korea's "Eurasia Initiative", Russia's "Eurasian Economic Union", Indonesia's "Global Ocean Fulcrum" development planning, Australia's "Northern Australia Roads Programme", and the UK's "Northern Powerhouse", so that more and more countries can complement each other's advantages and win mutual benefits. Over the past three years, more than 100 countries and international organizations have responded positively and offered support. More than 40 countries and international organizations have signed cooperative agreements with China, and the "circle of friends" of the Belt and Road Initiative has been expanding. China has deepened capacity cooperation with countries along the Belt and Road, signed capacity cooperation agreements with more than 20 countries, and built 46 overseas cooperation zones together with 17 countries. 

The Belt and Road infrastructure construction exceeded expectations. China has carried out a lot of cooperation with countries along the Belt and Road in ports, airports, railways and other infrastructure construction areas, effectively enhancing the level of infrastructure construction in these countries and achieving far more results than expected. For example, as a flagship project of the Belt and Road construction, the construction of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has made significant progress in many projects. Pakistan Karakoram Highway Phase II and Karachi Expressway have started construction. Financing has been completed for a batch of key projects such as the Lahore Orange Line Metro Train. Chashma and Karachi nuclear power plants have proceeded smoothly. For another example, the construction of the China-Central Asia-West Asia Economic Corridor has made full progress. The tunnel project (inside Uzbekistan) for the China–Kyrgyzstan–Uzbekistan Railway — Angren–Pap Railway — has been completed and opened to traffic. Tunnel No. 1 of the Tajikistan Vahdat–Yovon bridge and tunnel project was completed. Further, construction of China-Indochina Peninsula Economic Corridor is accelerating. Construction of the pilot section for Yavan High-speed Rail started. Moscow-Kazan High-Speed Railway, Sino-Laos Railway, Sino-Thai Railway, Sino-Myanmar Kyaukpyu Port and other projects are proceeding in an orderly manner. The China-Belarus Industrial Park has comprehensively started and entered the construction phase. Facilities connectivity is particularly of great importance to African countries. A lot of infrastructure constructed by China in Africa, from Addis Ababa–Djibouti Railway that has opened to traffic, Mombasa–Nairobi Railway that is to be completed, to the East African Railway Network that will link East Africa in the future, will effectively promote the economic integration process in the African continent.   

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The Belt and Road financial cooperation is deepening. Thanks to the joint efforts of all parties, countries along the Belt and Road have strengthened financial cooperation, and a financial guarantee system that serves the Belt and Road construction is taking shape. According to statistics, various types of bilateral and multilateral capacity cooperation funds established recently have amounted to more than 100 billion US dollars. The People's Bank of China has entered into bilateral currency swap agreements with central banks of more than 20 countries along the Belt and Road. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has opened for business, and the Silk Road Fund founded with China's investment worth 40 billion US dollars has been involved in the financing of a number of projects. All these efforts have provided investment and financing support for countries along the Belt and Road regarding infrastructure, resource development, industrial cooperation and interconnection-related projects.

Facts have proved and will continue to prove that the Belt and Road Initiative is a great idea and the Belt and Road construction is a great cause. To profoundly implement Xi Jinping's important thoughts on the Belt and Road construction, we, on the basis of fully absorbing and learning from the historical experience, should continuously promote and deepen the Belt and Road construction through innovative thinking and unremitting efforts, so that the Belt and Road construction can further strike root and bear fruits, better serve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, and benefit more to the countries along the Belt and Road and their people. 


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