Very warm greetings to all professors and students of the Silk Road School in Suzhou City in Jiangsu Province of China. I have visited your school two years ago and hold fond memories of my meetings with students and teachers of this excellent academic institution.
Today you will be discussing - in the form of the First Suzhou Silk Road Forum - the 14th Five – Year Plan of China and its importance for High Quality Development of Belt and Road. This is an important subject, one of great relevance for the world.
In the past two decades, the contribution of development of China to the overall development of the world has been staggering. I remember the discussions we had at the United Nations with the leaders of China in the year 2000, at the time when I was ASG working with Kofi Annan. Then the commitment of China to the UN Millennium Development Goals marked the beginning of a new era of intensive presence of China in the implementation of the global vision of development. With every Five - Year Plan of China that presence gained additional importance.
The 14th Five-Year Plan has the potential to help the world to recover from the crisis caused by the ongoing Covid 19 Pandemic and to open new opportunities for a higher quality of development worldwide. There are five reasons for this optimistic expectation.
First, China has already overcome the worst effects of the Covid 19 Pandemic. The recent decisions of the Central Committee of the CPC envision a new era, an era of high quality development. At the same time, China positioned itself as a leader that can make an effective contribution to the world in the difficult years of post Covid recovery.
Second, the 14th Five – Year Plan is conceived to establish a new development pattern of “dual circulation” that will enable domestic and international trade to reinforce each other. This, dual circulation model of development promises to transform China from the “world factory” to the “world market”.
This orientation is not entirely new, because China is already a very important market, but it can produce a strong global, transformative impulse once it develops its full potential in China in the course of the next five years.
Third, it shows the way towards a green, low carbon economy. Prevention of a catastrophic climate failure and securing green growth is the first priority - globally. China’s contribution is vitally important for the world. Investment in clean technologies and renewable sources of energy is already under way. Investment in new infrastructure of 5 G networks, smart grids and smart cities will follow soon and will mark the 14th Five Year Plan. In time, this will help the world to avoid the threatening disaster of global warming.
Fourth, the emphasis on poverty alleviation through consumption and vitalization of rural areas will provide valuable experience. It will not only eliminate poverty in China but may also serve as an example for the poverty eradication models in other parts of the world as well. Naturally, the profiles of poverty are different. But success in one part of the world will energize successes elsewhere.
And fifth and final, the 14th Five Year Plan will offer opportunities for new forms of cooperation along the New Silk Road. Innovative thinking is necessary and new types of partnerships should be considered. For example, China and European Union could join forces in Africa and develop a new partnership to help accelerating African development in infrastructure, industrialization, water management and in many other fields.
Is such thinking too far-fetched? Not at all. This is the time for bold ideas. The 14th Five – Year Plan of China is offering an opportunity for an entirely new era of global development.
Will this opportunity be seized? The answer to this question partly depends on the power of intellectual input, your intellectual input included. I wish you all success in your work.
Danilo Turk, former president of Slovenia and a nonresident senior fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.
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