Overseas experts and officials highly commented on the inspiration of the Belt and Road Initiative and a two-day forum in this regard that is to conclude here on Monday.
Characterized by extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, the Belt and Road links countries and regions that account for about 60 percent of the world’s population and 30 percent of global economic output.
ACCELERATOR OF GROWTH, DEVELOPMENT
William J. Carroll, president emeritus of U.S. Benedictine University, said, “Economic prosperity is the highway on which peace runs.”
“There is an old saying that ‘the tide raises all boats.’ Through the initiatives outlined by Chinese President Xi Jinping, all nations involved will prosper and thereby be more attuned to a peaceful and flourishing co-existence,” he said.
“I can only hope and trust that the U.S. will join this wonderful initiative. As China and the U.S. continue to grow in a mutually respectful and trusting relationship, U.S. participation in the initiative seems a natural and next step,” he added.
According to Oh Ei Sun, senior fellow from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, “many countries begin to turn inwards and introduce protectionism, but as a region that relies heavily on free trade, we need China to uphold free trade and push for the finalizing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.”
“I am confident that the agreements many of the participants will sign at the forum will set us on a strong footing for the next phase of this remarkable plan,” said Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in a signed article titling “Why Malaysia supports China’s Belt and Road” published by the South China Morning Post on May 12.
Ahmed Sallam, former media consultant at the Egyptian embassy in Beijing, told Xinhua that Xi has proposed “a roadmap for the initiative, especially that he provided a comprehensive vision of what the initiative could achieve and how it could contribute to the world development in general.”
“Whoever understands the speech of Xi very well will have confidence that the Belt and Road Initiative will lead economic globalization towards more balanced, comprehensive and harmonious development, and will work on addressing world issues through international cooperation,” he noted.
For his part, Joseph Matthews, director of the ASEAN Education Center in Cambodia, said in an interview with Xinhua that China’s generous contribution to the development of the region is laudable and encouraging.
“Without this, there would be no development in the region,” he noted, explaining that some of the countries on the Belt and Road are under-developed and working hard to meet the basic needs of their people.
According to Stathis Karapanos Karapanos, assistant researcher at the
University of Naples in Greece, China’s outward investments under the Belt and Road Initiative also offer a solution to its overcapacity bottleneck. “But this does not mean it is not offering growth opportunities to other populations in a peaceful manner as well.”
GUARANTEE OF PEACE, STABILITY
“A phrase we often hear from China is ‘win-win cooperation,’ and there are those who are skeptical when they hear it. But we in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) can see the truth in the game-changing infrastructure projects resulting from the Belt and Road Initiative,” said Malaysian Prime Minister Razak, referring to the initiative on the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiative brought up Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013. It brings together countries in Asia, Europe and Africa via overland and maritime networks.
“We should all welcome it. We should all contribute to and participate in it. And we should all wish it every success,” he noted.
Tarek al-Senoty, head of the political department at Egypt’s state-run Ahram newspaper, told Xinhua that the speech of Xi at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation “sent a number of messages to make this initiative clearer.”
“One of the strong messages Xi delivered is that the initiative is not meant for political expansion or ambitions, but is mainly based on mutual economic cooperation that will serve the whole world,” the expert added.
“Xi highlights the tendency of the Chinese foreign policy that is based on partnership and boosting cooperation for construction and development and sharing the fruits of development equally, without favoring a party at the expense of another,” said Egypt’s Sallam. “China is a major and strong supporter of a new open, pluralistic world,” he added.
Cambodia’s Matthews also said that he totally agrees with Xi on the fact that “the economic development of any region or country without peace is impossible. The Belt and Road in future will be known as the Road of Peace.”
“President Xi’s statement about creating partnership rather than alliance is a very meaningful and powerful message to countries seeking strategic and military alliance in the region,” he noted.
Luigi Gambardella, president of ChinaEU, a business-led international digital association in Brussels, said in an interview with Xinhua that “the plan of President Xi is an ingenious invention, and the largest non-conflicting development cooperation plan in the world.”
Sultan Mehmood Hali, head of Pakistan-China Media Forum, told Xinhua that “Xi’s assurance is extremely welcome because it assures that China does not harbor any hegemony design, nor has any desire to move against other nations.”
According to Aleksandra Joksimovic, president of the Serbian Center for Foreign Policy, “the 16+1 mechanism of China and 16 countries of Central and East Europe is directly involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.”
“This forum has revealed … the Asian aspect of the initiative, of which we are not fully aware,” he said, “Serbia is striving to bring both political and trading cooperation with China to the maximum level within the initiative. I think it has a serious approach towards this initiative.”
Brussels’ Gambardella suggested that China underline the cooperation on 5G and digital infrastructure with countries covered by the Belt and Road, which decreases “the substantial digital divide existing today among the nations involved and increase the efficiency of trade in goods.”
“Digital is also one of the most promising areas for cooperation between the EU and China. China and the EU have aligning policy plans in terms of digital economy development and complementary industrial advantages to exploit,” he said.
According to Dr. Altay Atli, research associate from Sabanci University Istanbul Policy Center, “So far the Belt and Road Initiative was at the stage of exchanging ideas between China and other stakeholders.”
“But all the things mentioned by President Xi showed that the initiative has completed this phase and is now moving on to the next phase of producing concrete outcomes. In other words, it is now moving from the idea stage to the action stage.”
“I greatly value Xi’s remarks that put the initiative into its proper historical context. He said the ancient Silk Road has managed to bring peace and cooperation 2,000 years ago. These are objectives that we want to achieve again in today’s world. Xi’s reminder is that a better world is possible,” he noted.—Xinhua