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Opportunities for many seen in BRI

By Zhao Huanxin in Washington | China Daily USA | Updated: 2018-04-13 01:05

The "globally important" Belt and Road Initiative is well on the way to bringing tremendous opportunities for business growth around the world, several researchers in the US and Canada said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the Boao Forum for Asia early on Tuesday, President Xi Jinping said the BRI may be China's idea, but its opportunities and outcomes are going to benefit the world. Xi also said that as a new initiative, it is perfectly natural for there to be different views on cooperation.

The BRI is a globally important initiative that represents perhaps the most coherent grand strategy in world affairs at the moment, according to Kent E. Calder, director of the Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

Calder, who is in Boao, Hainan province in South China attending the "Asian Davos", said the BRI, capitalizing on China's central location in Eurasia and the global value of connectivity, is a potential "win-win" for participants.

Proposed by Xi in 2013, the BRI comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

The initiative aims to build a trade, investment and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along and beyond the ancient Silk Road trade routes.

"Its very ambition makes full implementation difficult, but there could be opportunities for US firms in such areas as construction equipment, engineering and project finance," Calder told China Daily in email.

David Dollar, a senior fellow at the John L. Thornton China Center of the Brookings Institution, said BRI is a global effort on China's part to fund infrastructure investment. He said currently most projects are undertaken by Chinese companies, so "there are not a lot of business opportunities for US firms".

But Jon Taylor, a professor of political science of the University of St. Thomas in Houston, sees things differently.

"There are tremendous opportunities for US businesses – if they are willing to put in the effort," said Taylor, who has written extensively on China.

Some US companies, such as Honeywell, Chubb, General Electric and Caterpillar, all have publicly stated that they see the Belt and Road Initiative as an opportunity for business growth, he said.

"Given China's history of non-intervention and support for economic globalization, Xi was smart to note that the Belt and Road Initiative is what it is: an infrastructure and investment program," Taylor said.

"While it may have the effect of extending China's influence – as is the case with initiatives by all major world powers – developing a massive, multinational economic zone benefits the world."

Gordon Houlden, director of the China Institute at the University of Alberta, Canada, said the BRI is easily the largest international program of trade and investment in the 21st century.

He said that it is still in the early stage for the BRI, and international support for it would continue to increase as foreign bidders are increasingly getting involved.

The BRI has gained support from more than 100 countries and international organizations, with at least 80 nations and international bodies already having signed deals with China for cooperation within the BRI framework, according to earlier media reports.

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