Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
Home / World / BRI 10 Years On

Initiative vital to enhance connectivity

By WANG MINGJIE in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-10-20 09:42
Share - WeChat
Kenyan students prepare to take the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway at a station on Oct 7. The Chinese-built railway has played a vital role in boosting connectivity in Kenya. WU XIAOHUI/CHINA DAILY

Experts have observed substantial collaboration between China and its partners over the past decade within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, resulting in successful outcomes in areas such as trade enhancement, financial consolidation, and cultural exchange.

Bert Hofman, former World Bank country director for China and current director of the East Asian Institute at the National University of Singapore, said: "The BRI has made a significant impact on connectivity, trade and investment, and enhanced policy coordination among countries that have joined the initiative. Financial cooperation is yet to be further developed.

"Though the numbers have been distorted by COVID and other external events … it is clear that significant investments have been made," he added.

Bernard Dewit, chairman of Belgian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and senior partner at Dewit Law Office, said: "The BRI is a great potential platform to promote multilateralism and policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity.

"Especially in a divided, multipolar world with many interconnected issues, we need to promote more connectivity, so we are able to overcome common challenges — the most important one being climate change — together," he said. "The BRI is already creating more people-to-people exchanges, which fosters mutual understanding."

He emphasized the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as a prime illustration of the trade facilitation enabled by the BRI. This initiative has significantly reduced the distance between China and the Middle East, shrinking it from a lengthy and uncertain 12,900 kilometers via sea route to a shorter, more secure land route spanning 3,000 kilometers.

Supporting Global South

Mario Cavolo, a longtime China observer and a nonresident senior fellow at the Center for China and Globalization, viewed the BRI as instrumental in supporting developing nations seeking growth.

"From my perspective having lived in China over 20 years, I've watched specialized economic zones and models prove tremendously successful in driving development," he said. Through the BRI platform, many countries, especially those in the Global South, have borrowed China's tested experiences in development, he added.

China has entered into over 230 cooperation agreements related to the BRI with more than 150 nations and over 30 international bodies, according to official figures.

Furthermore, financial cooperation has been strengthened. By the end of June 2023, the number of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank members had reached 106, and the bank had approved 227 projects with a total investment of $43.6 billion, according to a white paper released by China's State Council Information Office this month.

Cavolo said the challenge for the BRI is geopolitical forces seeking to contain China's growth, though recent tech advances show such attempts will ultimately fail.

Dewit said: "One clear area of cooperation could be the acceleration of green energy projects. Since 2015, around 44 percent of all BRI investments went into the energy sectors of its partner countries. Accelerating green projects worldwide will offer cooperation opportunities with the West and business opportunities for European companies."

Ten years on, assessments show the BRI has facilitated significant infrastructure, trade, and partnership gains, with experts agreeing that the initiative is well poised to contribute further to sustainable development in its next phase.

Most Viewed in 24 Hours
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349