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Moving 'history forward"

By ZHANG YUNBI | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-16 05:46

Moving 'history forward

President Xi Jinping announces the start of the roundtable of the Belt and Road Forum on Monday in Beijing. MA ZHANCHENG / XINHUA

Belt and Road Initiative bringing people together in 'pursuit of a better life', Xi says; 2nd summit set for 2019

China will host the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in 2019, President Xi Jinping announced on Monday at a news briefing in Beijing while describing the outcomes of the forum and the Leaders Roundtable.

At the forum this year, held on Sunday and Monday, 29 foreign heads of state and government as well as chiefs of international organizations, corporate leaders, senior officials and scholars gathered to chart the blueprint for the Belt and Road Initiative, which has won positive feedback from more than 100 countries.

Xi confirmed that China has so far signed cooperative agreements with 68 countries and international organizations concerning the initiative, including those signed during the forum.

A list of major outcomes of the forum was approved at the closing ceremony of the forum, with 76 items including more than 270 concrete results in the key areas of policy, infrastructure, trade, finance and people-to-people exchanges.

Leaders attending the roundtable on Monday also issued a joint communique, in which they stated a "shared commitment to building an open economy, ensuring free and inclusive trade (and) opposing all forms of protectionism in the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative".

The summit has seen leaders agreeing to prioritize policy consultation, work on perfecting the infrastructure connectivity network and better serve public well-being and sustained development, according to an official release of the Foreign Ministry.

While chairing the summit, Xi said the Belt and Road Initiative is an open and inclusive platform and a public service jointly built by parties around the world.

China welcomes all friends cherishing the same ideals to join the Belt and Road, which will neither exclude nor target any side, he said.

"The Belt and Road development does not shut out, nor is it directed against, any party," Xi said.

When addressing the closing ceremony of the forum, Xi said, "People's pursuit of a better life has helped move history forward", and the Belt and Road development is bringing together people of all countries along the routes in a joint endeavor for common development and shared benefits through win-win cooperation.

Xu Haoliang, assistant secretary-general of the United Nations and director of the United Nations Development Programme's regional bureau for Asia and the Pacific, said the Belt and Road Initiative promotes the opposite of an inward-looking mentality and "could indeed shape the 21st century international cooperation model".

The effects of the initiative "could be transformational, particularly if it promotes economic, social and environmental sustainability", Xu said.

Ruan Zongze, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said China's latest proposals and the outcomes achieved at the forum show that China's development "brings national interests to itself and brings benefits to other countries as well", and China's proposed solution is having a growing say on the world stage.

Wang Yiwei, a professor of international relations studies at Renmin University of China, said the latest outcomes are being achieved at a time when many of the countries participating in the initiative are introducing industrialization, modernization and infrastructure buildup.

"Since the world economy is still sluggish, the huge production capacity and construction capabilities to be introduced will meet such urgent demands ... and make their people feel more tangible benefits," Wang said.

China's negotiating with participating countries for more bilateral free-trade agreements will help address the current downturn of the globalization process, the professor added.

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