Guests invited to the inauguration of the Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway take selfies at Halim Station in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Oct 2. The bullet train, which is part of a Belt and Road project, reduces travel time between the two cities to just 45 minutes from three hours. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP
The impressive facts and figures in the encompassing policy document unveiled by China on Tuesday on the 10-year-old Belt and Road Initiative are a convincing illustration of the vast and tangible results achieved by the nation and its partners, and highlight the potential for the landmark vision’s further growth, experts said.
They made these observations as the State Council Information Office held a news conference in Beijing to issue a white paper titled “The Belt and Road Initiative: A Key Pillar of the Global Community of Shared Future”.
In September and October of 2013, President Xi Jinping proposed the initiatives of jointly building a Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which became known as the Belt and Road Initiative.
Over the past decade, the BRI has “helped to resolve global development challenges and improve the global governance system”, and “has also opened up a new path for all humanity to realize modernization”, the white paper said.
Noting that the BRI is “a public road open to all, not a private path owned by any single party”, the document said the vision “is free from geopolitical calculations”.
“Countries from Eurasia, Africa, the Americas, and Oceania are all welcome to participate in the initiative, regardless of their political system, historical background, culture, development stage, ideology, or religious beliefs, as long as they seek common development,” it said.
Cong Liang, vice-chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, noted that China’s total imports and exports with countries involved in the BRI reached $19.1 trillion in the 2013-22 period, registering an average annual growth rate of 6.4 percent.
Speaking on the overall progress of the initiative, he noted that more than 150 countries and 30 international organizations have so far joined the BRI family.
Over the past decade, the countries’ efforts to jointly build the Belt and Road “have fully realized the shift from a concept to actions, and from a vision to reality”.
Guo Tingting, vice-minister of commerce, noted that two-way investment between China and other countries involved in the BRI totaled more than $380 billion between 2013 and 2022, among which China’s outward direct investment exceeded $240 billion.
These countries “have also actively invested in China and shared China’s development opportunities, with a cumulative total of more than $140 billion invested in China over the past decade and close to 67,000 new enterprises set up in China”, she said.
Wang Yiwei, a professor at the School of International Studies and director of the Institute of International Affairs at Renmin University of China, said that over the past 10 years, “the BRI has found the key to spur economic growth, as it catalyzes infrastructure construction, the reshaping of production chains, and negotiations on investment and trade facilitation”.
“Advancing poverty relief, narrowing wealth disparity and boosting effective global governance are the three major effects of the BRI’s focus on infrastructure and connectivity,” he said.
Highlighting fruitful outcomes achieved within the BRI framework, Xu Xiujun, director of the International Political Economy Department of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of World Economics and Politics, said the initiative “has listed producing tangible benefits for the peoples in countries taking part in the BRI as one of its major goals, and their sense of gain has indeed been constantly on the rise and increasingly self-evident”.
He noted that as the vision has entered the stage of seeking high-quality development, it should work for more coordinated growth in connectivity among hardware and software.
Beijing is set to host the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation later this month, an event that will provide a venue for a wide range of highly anticipated bilateral and multilateral diplomacy.
Representatives from over 130 countries and more than 30 international organizations have confirmed their plans to attend the forum, Li Kexin, director-general of the Foreign Ministry’s Department of International Economic Affairs, told reporters. China has so far held major gatherings on the BRI in 2017 and 2019.
The upcoming forum “is not only the grandest event to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the BRI, but also an important platform for discussing BRI cooperation”, Li said, adding that the forum’s detailed schedule will be released in due course.
China is ready to take the upcoming forum as an opportunity to make new achievements in high-quality co-building of the Belt and Road, he added.