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Wang Yiwei: ‘Belt and Road’ offers route to cooperation in Europe


By Wang Yiwei    Source: Global Times    Published: 2015-11-8


China`s GDP now accounts for 13 percent of the global total and China has become one of the three major economic powers in the world together with the US and EU.

How should China seek to expand its space for development? The "One Belt, One Road" initiative is a vital approach. It is an initiative involving international cooperation that would bring Europe and China together to develop third-party markets in Asia, Europe and Africa. It will allow China to earn a place in the world centers of manufacturing (North America, Europe and East Asia) along with regional integration that includes the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the EU and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

China`s opening-up has been mainly directed toward Western countries and Southeast Asian countries in particular, but with the US "rebalance to Asia" strategy, China`s traditional focus of opening-up is being sorely tested.

Hence, the direction of opening-up should shift from southeast to northwest, facing the terminus of the old Silk Road - Europe.

Given current world conditions, those who can win the heart of Europe can prosper in the world. China`s diplomatic success in Europe is reflected by the fact that the "One Belt, One Road" initiative has been warmly welcomed.

Continuing and enhanced cooperation to explore third-party markets between China and other countries such as Portugal, Spain and France, and particularly ones along the Belt and Road, has marked the initiative.

The initiative calls for comprehensive international cooperation, has a principle of jointly constructing the initiative through consultation to meet the interests of all and aims to cover the 65 countries and regions in Europe, Asia and Africa that lie along the Road and Belt, with a combined population of 4.4 billion people.

Given that European countries have advanced technology while China has strong manufacturing capacity and the ability to commercialize high technology, only by joining hands can both sides avoid unnecessary competition and increase their market shares.

Sino-EU cooperation to develop third-party markets is also a reflection of international cooperation in production capacity. Here is just one example. Nuclear technology in France ranks first in the world, and 80 percent of the country`s electricity is generated by nuclear plants. China has sophisticated and relevant experience in plant construction and operation, it will be a perfect combination if China and France join to expand third-party markets in the nuclear sector.

This has been demonstrated by the UK`s Hinkley Point reactor deal signed by the UK, China and France. With China`s cost-effective nuclear power equipment and France`s world-class technology that is the world`s safest, every party involved in the deal wins.

The most enduring cooperation in most cases is one in which each participant takes what it needs, and it is precisely what third-party market cooperation in China`s case is about. This form of cooperation will generate even better outcomes than any single nation can achieve. When developing countries like China expand third-party markets in cooperation with developed countries, that trend could even help lift the global economy out of its gloom.

China and Europe can promote cooperation projects by jointly investing in the sectors of transportation, energy and the environment.

The issue of foreign aid can serve as a typical example. In this field, China does not set specific political conditions to help other countries. Rich countries like those in Europe have been urged by the UN Millennium Development Project to commit 0.7 percent of their GNP to development assistance. But these countries often set political conditions that are difficult for nations seeking foreign aid to meet. China can be a bridge to help countries in need receive funds from rich European countries, thus helping rich countries meet their responsibilities involving global governance. In this way, Sino-EU cooperation in developing third-party markets is also a complement to global governance.

It is not difficult to see that during President Xi Jinping`s state visit to the UK, he raised an important idea involving the "One Belt, One Road" initiative by emphasizing the importance of Europe. It is also worth mentioning that the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong, as a former British colony, has much in common with European markets in terms of finance and legislation. It can serve as a pioneer in Sino-EU cooperation regarding the "One Belt, One Road" initiative.

The author is a senior fellow of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China.

Key Words: Belt and Road   growth   EU  

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