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Wang Yiwei: Building a better world with Belt and Road Initiative

2016-09-09

By Wang Yiwei    Source: CNTV    Published: 2016-9-9

 

Liang Shuming, a master of Chinese culture and philosopher, asked how can the world get better? However, many people from Europe and American countries are pessimistic that tomorrow would not get better.


 


An anti-globalization trend has emerged that endorses trade protectionism, isolationism, populism, and extremism. Accordingly, our world stands at a crossroads.


Beijing has given a clear response: The world can get better with the Belt and Road Initiative. China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt that links China with Europe through central and western Asia, and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road connecting China with southeast Asia, Africa and Europe. Since the initiative was proposed three years ago, it has made a large impact on the world.


The initiative can help the world economy recover from the 2008 Financial Crisis, since it`s more crucial to invest in the real economy rather than create financial bubbles. For developed countries, engaging in re-industrialization is much easier said than done.


The TTIP, TPP and re-industrialization appear to have become fruitless. The Belt and Road remains the most viable international cooperation initiative to guide the world economy to revitalize cross-border regional cooperation to bring brighter prospects for global investors.


On August 17, 2016, Chinese President Xi Jinping attended a forum to promote the Belt and Road as an opportunity to carry out cross-border interconnections, enhance global trade and investment, promote international production capacity and equipment manufacture cooperation, by increasing supply to stimulate new demand to rebalance the world economy.


Xi said the global economy is undergoing a downturn. Realizing huge production capacity and capacity-building formed in procyclical years going abroad, can satisfy the urgent needs of those countries along the Belt and Road region for their industrialization, modernization and upgrading infrastructure to stabilize global economic conditions.


Nations all over the world are learning from the East, learning the Chinese model, taking a development path in line with their national conditions. More than 100 countries and international organizations have showed interest to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative, while more than 30 countries have signed agreements with China to jointly build it and carried out international production capacity cooperation with 20 countries. The United Nations and other international organizations hold a positive attitude. Some financial cooperation had been deepened with establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and Silk Road Fund (SRF).


A number of projects have already been undertaken. The Belt and Road`s progress has exceeded expectations, which highlights the charms of the Chinese model to reflect the world`s disappointment of the US and western models. The initiative is featured with Chinese characteristics.


The belt refers to the economic corridor and economic development zone, reflecting China`s reform and opening-up. The Silk Road Economic Belt supports the work in the entire area, gradually forming large regional cooperation.


There`s a Chinese saying, "anyone who wants to get rich must first build roads, for quick wealth needs express ways." Interconnections on infrastructure are the key focus.


The Belt and Road refers to many roads instead of one road, which everyone can share. According to the market economy, Uzbekistan is struggling, because the poor landlocked country needs loans from international financial institutions.


Xi visited Toshkent to grant the country loans from China`s State Development Bank. Developing infrastructure first, and then gradually upgrade the external environment when the market economy requires it.


The Belt and Road supports government plus the market to help Toshkent get loans from CDB and AIIB. Beijing has found a development path in line with its national conditions.


Other countries are also breaking the notion that universal values of Western countries and Washington Consensus should be the only rule, and they are exploring new development paths in their own national conditions, which could restore diversity to the world.


It`s time to restore confidence in inclusive globalization. Western countries have become a global power where global expansion means Western modernity. Yet, Western developed economies account for less than 40% of the global economy. They can no longer be the engine driver for globalization, but the source of anti-globalization.


Since the global financial crisis, China has become the hub of global industrial activities and a standard-bearer for globalization. Xi said the Belt and Road means Beijing welcomes every party to ride on China`s development express train.


Beijing welcomes states and international organizations to participate, since China launched its modernization at the world`s largest scale, facing the greatest difficulties. The Belt and Road can make globalization more inclusive, sustainable, and reasonable.


The Belt and Road is correcting globalization through interconnection in the fields of policy, facility, trade, finance, and people`s will, co-ordinations between land and sea, at home and abroad, politics and economy. The initiative aims to achieve a rebalance between inland areas and coastal areas, politics and economic development; transforming the dual economic structure of developing countries.


Building a Silk Road on green, health, wisdom, and peace and grasping development, this common denominator would benefit the Chinese and all others. The world`s perception of the Belt and Road has endured a change from wait-and-see suspicions to an active and positive response.


The world is watching Washington, and Washington is watching Beijing. Initially, Washington believed the Belt and Road was just a buzz word for China`s new leader, and they deemed it an ambitious illusion.


The successful establishment of AIIB last April opened many people`s eyes. Washington watched and Think Tanks began to study the initiative with a geopolitical point of view, claiming Beijing wanted The Silk Road Economic Belt instead of the Silk Road.


The sea is open, but Washington claimed China wanted to squeeze Russian territory via The Silk Road Economic Belt, which would trigger a Sino-Russian strategic rivalry and cause China to suffer disastrous consequences.


Eventually, the rest of the world discovered that Washington did not explicitly oppose the Belt and Road, after its European allies joined the AIIB. More national governments are supporting it, but think tanks and businesspeople remain suspicious of  Beijing`s strategic intent.As more people enjoy the benefits, Beijing can expect more countries to cast suspicions aside. In the past three years, the Belt and Road has sparked strong enthusiasm at home and abroad.


Washington should not oppose it. Beijing`s confidence to build the Belt and Road has attracted many other countries to join in. The Dean of Lebanon Confucius Institute said "the 21st century is China`s century, and Beirut should grasp the opportunity of the Belt and Road."


Beijing had led a successful poverty alleviation campaign, which had attracted more global support; while some countries have expressed dismay over Washington and western states. They had witnessed the Arab Spring turn into an Arab Winter nightmare.


The world`s public goods supply gap is widening. Washington`s leadership and honesty have declined. Asian infrastructure has a gap of eight trillion US dollars, thus Beijing`s proposal to establish the AIIB has become a major success story.


Washington`s opposition looks ineffective. The Belt and Road intends to address major concerns for our society and to achieve the United Nations` sustainable development agenda in 2030.


1.1 billion people around the world have no access to electricity. They need a national grid covering long distances and UHV grids to minimize costs for modernization. The US Bloomberg forecast that the Belt and Road would bring three billion people into the middle class ranks by 2050.


Beijing`s initiative is inclusive and open, reflecting the world`s voice. During the Sixth World Forum on China Studies, Nov. 2015, an Egyptian scholar said Western countries` are exporting arms and turmoil into the Middle East to grab more oil. But Beijing brings economic development cooperation initiatives instead.


At the fifth China-EU High level Forum of political parties, the former Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta said it is time for Europe to remove the scales from their eyes. It is hard to predict in the next five months. But the Chinese are making the design for the next fifty years.


Chairman of the Latvian Friendship Association said there has never existed an ambitious cooperation initiative in history.


It goes beyond the imagination of Europeans. The Belt and Road could become one of the human beings` greatest initiatives. Increasing international public goods demand to resolve poor supply capacity is the driving force for building the Belt and Road.


Principles of joint negotiations, sharing and concepts of benefits, responsibilities, and common destinies proposed by The Belt and Road favor new international relations to enjoy win-win cooperation in the 21st century.


Creating an open, inclusive, balanced, commonly beneficial regional economic cooperation framework, would fill the short board of globalization that promotes development from partial globalization to inclusive globalization direction to reflect the global responsibility of a rising China.

 

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

Key Words: Belt and Road   economy   globalization  

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