Source: Global Times Published: 2019-3-27
More countries will join the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a senior Italian official told the Global Times on Wednesday, following Chinese media reports that two more G7 countries prepared to join.
"I predict all countries will sign" BRI memorandum of understanding (MOU), Michele Geraci, undersecretary of state with Italy's Ministry of Economic Development, said on the sidelines of a panel at the Boao Forum for Asia.
"I think more countries will join it because they will see the benefits. They will see that the MOU we signed is a good MOU. It [the MOU] contains language very close to European standards," Geraci added.
Last week, China and Italy signed an MOU to jointly advance the construction of the BRI. Italy officially becomes the first G7 country to join the BRI, making headlines. Now there's guessing over which G7 country will follow suit.
More Western countries will embrace the BRI. For instance, Spain has shown its intention of joining the project, and the UK is also willing, Wang Yiwei, Jean Monnet Chair Professor at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Tuesday night.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday that China and Germany have broad common interests. Germany would like to actively participate in the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing next month, China National Radio reported on Wednesday.
China and Japan also have reached a vital consensus on third-party market cooperation under the framework of the BRI.
"The circle of friends will become larger and larger," Wang said, noting that more countries have realized the benefits of the BRI.
Also, some countries have realized that objections to the project will be a failure, as was the case with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which didn't stop the China-led multilateral bank from moving forward, Wang noted.
"There is no reason why China should not be making investments around the world. Italy is a sovereign country that can make its own decisions," James Bacchus, professor of global affairs and director of the center for Global Economic and Environmental Opportunity of the University of Central Florida, told the Global Times, commenting on US responses to Italy and potentially other countries joining the BRI. The US reportedly warned Italy about joining the China-proposed BRI.
"If the BRI is a way to bind countries together through more trade, that's a good thing," Bacchus said.
"Instead of objecting to the BRI for groundless reasons, more countries have realized they could join the project and set standards together," Wang said.
Any country or investor that undertakes a project anywhere can be in line with the spirit of the BRI, as long as the project promotes global and regional cooperation, peace and development, Jin Liqun, the head of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, said at a BFA session for the BRI.
"I wonder why some people remain skeptical [toward the BRI]. China proposed this initiative to promote global cooperation, which shows the principle of achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration," Jin said.
"In my opinion, have misunderstood China's policies - they seem to regard only a project launched by China as a BRI project. Such an idea is wrong, and it's not in line with the original beliefs and intentions of the Chinese leaders," he added.
Wang Yiwei is a senior fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China.