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Consul General Zhang Zhen Publishes a Byline Article about BRI on SunStar Newspaper
2023-10-18 10:44

On October 18th, SunStar Newspaper published a byline article about the Belt and Road Initiative by Consul General Zhang Zhen. Here is the full text:

Have you ever heard about the Belt and Road Initiative?

Over two millennia ago, inspired by a sincere wish for friendship, Chinese ancestors travelled across grasslands and deserts to create a land Silk Road connecting Asia, Europe and Africa, leading the world into an era of extensive cultural exchanges. More than 1,000 years ago, Chinese ancestors set sail and braved the waves to open a maritime Silk Road linking the East and the West, beginning a new phase of closer communication among peoples. Spanning thousands of miles and years, the ancient silk routes were not only routes for trade but also roads for cultural exchanges. They made a great contribution to human progress. 

In 2013, China’s President Xi Jinping proposed the vision of a global community of shared future, and later that year he raised the initiatives of joining with others to build a Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI). BRI is a creative development that takes on and carries forward the spirit of the ancient silk routes. It enriches the ancient spirit with the zeitgeist and culture of the new era, and provides a platform for building a global community of shared future. 

Since BRI’s launch 10 years ago, thanks to the combined efforts of all parties, cooperation under the BRI framework has expanded beyond the borders of China to become an international effort. It has evolved from ideas into actions, from a vision into reality, and from a general framework into concrete projects. It has been welcomed by the international community both as a public good and a cooperation platform, and has achieved solid results. 

The BRI welcomes all countries with open arms, following the Silk Road spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit. The BRI is not ideologically driven, still less with values-related strings attached. It is not created for the sake of power confrontation or forming blocs. In contrast to those “small circles” or “exclusionary groups” pieced together by some countries, Belt and Road cooperation is a big family guided by the principle of extensive consultation and joint contribution for shared benefit. As of June this year, more than 150 countries and 30-plus international organizations have signed over 200 Belt and Road cooperation documents with China. Some international observers comment that no country in history has ever tried to roll out policies to build economic ties among so many countries across various continents.

Enhancing cooperation through opening up. As a highly popular global public good and cooperation platform, the BRI promotes connectivity, facilitates the effort of relevant countries and regions to better integrate into global supply, industrial and value chains, and creates greater development opportunities. The initiative is a broad path along which China and other countries share opportunities for common development. Over the past decade, the BRI has galvanized nearly USD 1 trillion of investment, launched more than 3,000 cooperation projects, and created an array of national landmarks, livelihood projects and milestones of cooperation. The China-Laos Railway helps make land-locked Laos a land-linked country. The Mombasa-Nairobi Railway adds more than two percentage points to local economic growth. The China-Europe Railway Express has completed over 73,000 freight services. Indeed, the BRI has become a “belt of development” and a “road to happiness”.

Addressing development problems through opening up. As an open platform for cooperation, the BRI aims to build a fair, equitable and transparent system of international trade and investment rules, and make economic globalization more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial to all. The effective operation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Belt and Road Special Lending Scheme, the Silk Road Fund, Silk Road theme bonds, and other new instruments will help ease the problem of inaccessible and expensive financing. New platforms for international development cooperation, including the Belt and Road Sustainable Cities Alliance and the BRI International Green Development Coalition, will create more development opportunities and brighter prospects for developing countries, and help narrow development gaps. According to data from the World Bank, Belt and Road cooperation is on course to help lift 7.6 million people from extreme poverty and 32 million from moderate poverty across the world by 2030.

As an ancient Chinese saying goes, “Ceaseless inflow of rivers makes the ocean deep.”The third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation will soon be held in Beijing from October 17 to 18 under the theme “High-quality Belt and Road Cooperation: Together for Common Development and Prosperity”. President Xi Jinping will attend the opening ceremony of the forum and deliver a keynote speech, and hold bilateral events for the guests attending the forum. A more open China will further integrate itself into the world and deliver greater progress and prosperity for both China and the world at large.

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