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China's BRI helps to rebuild Iraq, say Iraqi scholars

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-05-28 07:25

Iraqi residents walk along Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad, Iraq, May 14, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

BAGHDAD, May 27 (Xinhua) -- Aqil Hamdan, a professor at Baghdad-based al-Mustansiriyah University, said China could play a vital role in Iraq's post-war reconstruction, particularly through the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Saying infrastructure in Iraq was dilapidated after decades of wars, sanctions, and economic woes, the professor believed "Chinese companies can meet Iraq's urgent need for foreign investment, technology, and equipment" to restore its economy.

"We need the BRI, for it is a project that builds roads and bridges and promotes development in industrial and medical areas, as well as in residential cities," Hamdan said, noting Western countries illegally invaded and occupied his country whereas China brings an answer to prosperity.

"China does not occupy any country," Hamdan said, highlighting that China develops relations with other countries based on "mutual benefit and common destiny."

Calling Iraq "a natural partner of China" due to its central location on the ancient Silk Road, Hamdan believed cooperation between China and Iraq can "promote the connectivity of Asian, European and African continents."

Hamdan is also an active member of a local non-governmental organization called "The Popular Movement of the Belt and Road Initiative and the Port of al-Faw," which supports Chinese investment in the country's al-Faw Great Port project.

Being active in 15 of Iraq's 18 provinces, the organization's members include former government officials, scholars, entrepreneurs, and workers.

Anwar al-Bahadli, another member of the organization, who had once worked at the Iraqi embassy in Beijing for four years, described China's achievements since joining the World Trade Organization in 2001 as "qualitative breakthroughs."

He said, "Iraq must take the 'Chinese train of growth' as it is the best solution to tackle its own problems."

The BRI was first put forward in 2013, seeking to connect Asia with Africa and Europe via land and maritime networks to improve regional integration, increase trade and stimulate economic growth.

Ten years on, the initiative has developed into a beacon of economic growth with more than 150 countries and over 30 international organizations signing cooperation documents under the BRI framework.

Haider al-Rubaie, head of the Iraqi-Chinese Friendship Association, hailed the BRI as "a joint development initiative that helps the world to achieve justice, peace, and security."

He noted that more and more Chinese entrepreneurs have come to invest in Iraq and more fruits are expected to be borne in bilateral cooperation.

"We (the association) are getting busier because of the closer relationship between the two countries," al-Rubaie told Xinhua.

He stressed that the friendship and cooperation between Iraq and China should not be destroyed by lies and hostile policies from Western countries against the BRI.

Lauding the BRI as a development program for the whole world, al-Rubaie said China "helps the world to be one home, one village, so that there is no difference between Iraq and China, for we are all friends and brothers."

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