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Belt and Road Forum a historic test

China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-02 07:03


Editor's note: Beijing will host the first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in less than two weeks. Following are the views of four scholars on its global importance:

Opportunities for US to work together

Ruan Zongze, deputy director of China Institute of International Studies


The Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013, has become the most promising platform for international cooperation. The initiative, comprising the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, has drawn a growing number of participants thanks to its global influence. More than 100 countries and international organizations support the initiative, while over 40 have signed cooperation agreements with China.

The initiative has added fresh impetus to China and the rest of the world to promote globalization and build a "community of shared destiny of humankind", which UN Security Council Resolution 2344 of March 17 referred to while calling for regional economic cooperation to promote sustainable growth in Afghanistan. The reference to a community of shared destiny of humankind in the resolution reflects the extent of China's contribution to global governance.

The UN reference was followed by New Zealand signing a memorandum of understanding on cooperation with China on March 31, indicating that more developed countries could join the Belt and Road Initiative.

Moreover, the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank already has 70 members, more than both the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development and the Asian Development Bank. The AIIB, in fact, is the world's largest multilateral development organization after the World Bank, and has five of the G7 countries as members.

Still, some scholars in the United States doubt the intention of China's initiative, suggesting it is part of Beijing's plan to widen its influence in Eurasia and challenge Washington's global leadership. A few US scholars have even labeled it the Marshall Plan of China, and adopted a wait-and-watch approach, while others oppose it simply because it was proposed by China. By doing so, they are only preventing US enterprises from benefiting from the initiative.

The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation scheduled for May 14-15 will provide a platform for the participants to share their views about the future development of the initiative. In other words, although launched by China, the initiative can bring great benefits for all the participating countries. And it can help Washington and Beijing to work together in fields such as infrastructure construction in the US, and take measures to boost free trade in the Asia-Pacific region. Besides, the initiative can also help deepen Sino-US bilateral cooperation, and promote peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific.

Constructive alternative to gathering dark clouds

Martin Sieff, a senior fellow at the Global Policy Institute in Washington

Four years after its formal launch in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative continues to quietly generate momentum as one of the most important geostrategic developments of the new millennium.

Over the past 40 years, China has developed the greatest concentration of industrial and manufacturing capability, raising the overall standard of living of its people, while also helping boost the neighboring economies, which are among the greatest achievements of the human race.

And owing to its investments and still rapidly growing market for energy, food staples and raw materials, China has become the greatest economic engine powering the major economies of Africa as well.

But why is the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing so important for China? Does it mean China will further promote globalization and regional cooperation? And how should China try to seek more chances of cooperation with other countries?

The Belt and Road Initiative is vital to promoting peace and stability in two crucial regions of the world-Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Central Asia's most visionary leaders, President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, President Almazbek Atambayev of Kyrgyzstan and President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow of Turkmenistan, have grasped the enormous value of transforming the region, long neglected as peripheral, into a central artery of world communication and commerce, because it will bring great benefits to their peoples.

The initiative offers the prospect of fulfilling through peace, rising living standards and improved international cooperation and understanding the goal of making the heartland of the "world island"-the combined continents of Asia, Europe and Africa-the communications heartland, or nerve center of the world.

That is why the forum in Beijing is so important. It offers the peoples of the "world island" a constructive alternative to the sinister gathering clouds of religious fanaticism, usually generated by poverty, fear and chaos, or the advance of menacing military alliances to threaten the national sovereignty of great nations.

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