"While talking about the Belt and Road Initiative, we should emphasize that the initiative is not solely of China, but also of the related countries, serving the common development of this region," Wang Yiwei said introducing his book "Belt and Road Initiative: Opportunities and Challenges" to a group of experts and journalists at a roundtable meeting co-hosted by the Charhar Institute and People’s Publishing House on May 10.
The Belt and Road Initiative, or the initiative of jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, has been under intense discussions at home and abroad ever since it was first proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping when he visited Central Asia and Southeast Asia in September-October 2013.
Wang, director of the Institute of International Affairs at Renmin University of China, said that some discussions were misleading as the initiative was sometimes misinterpreted as a Chinese version of the Marshall Plan and China’s efforts in this regard were viewed as intended to influence the Asia-Pacific region.
Under these circumstances, the first book on the Belt and Road Initiative comes off the press to clear up such misunderstandings.
The Chinese scholar states in his book that the initiative brings along with it four opportunities: the all-round opening up of China, improvement of diplomatic ties among neighbors, closer regional cooperation and common development for the whole world.
“The Belt and Road Initiative is an international proposal as well as public goods,” Wang said at the meeting. “It is not a repetition of the ancient tributary system. On the contrary, it is a product of a new century which needs innovative thinking and cooperation. It aims at development for all.”
Wang also admits that implementation will be confronted with challenges including geopolitical factors, security threats, economic interactions and legal systems. However, he believes that the initiative conforms to the trend of inclusive globalization and that goal is achievable.
Other experts at the meeting also shared their views. Lu Xiankun, a researcher at China Institute for WTO Studies at University of International Business and Economics, said the Belt and Road Initiative was raised in a timely manner, providing a large platform for China’s development, but if China did not send out clearer messages about its policies, misunderstandings would arise.
Zhang Xiao, associate researcher with National Development and Reform Commission said that like the Chinese saying goes, “Long distance separates no bosom friends,” the Belt and Road will connect us and achieve win-win progress.
Ke Yinbin, secretary general of the Charhar Institute, said the Belt and Road Initiative is a creative endeavor for “common modernization” meaning the concerted efforts of all countries and peoples along the Belt and Road in seeking common interests. He also called for think tanks, college professors and reporters to retain composure and keep calm on their role in contributing to the implementation of the initiative among heated discussions on the Belt and Road.
Wang Yiwei, senior fellow of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies of Renmin University of China, was quoted in this article.