A New Blueprint of Cooperation For a New Future of Ancient Silk Road (by Jiang Jiang, Chinese Ambassador to Malta)


In just a few days, the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) will commence in Beijing. 28 heads of state, Secretary-General of the United Nations, together with delegates of 110 countries and 61 international organizations will participate in the event. The Forum will be the highest-level international conference concerning the Belt and Road Initiative since President Xi Jinping put it forward in 2013. It will also be yet another conference of global standing that China hosts after the APEC Meeting in Beijing and the G20 Hangzhou Summit.

The BRF has set its theme as "Strengthening International Cooperation and Co-building the 'Belt and Road' for Win-win Development". In the program, there is the opening ceremony, the leaders' roundtable summit and the high-level conference.

The forum shall focus on major issues to inject political impetusinto "Belt and Road" development. It shall also address specific topics to provide enabling conditions for practical cooperation. Supported by both leadership-level guidance and area-specific actions, the BRF seeks to pool wisdom and strength from all sides to forge a synergy.

The Forum shall bring the building of "Belt and Road" into a new stage and leave its mark in the fostering of a network of partnerships and improvement of the global governance.

At this important moment in the building of the "Belt and Road", the international community is closely watching and expects a great deal from the BRF. Questions are being asked: what are the forces driving the "Belt and Road" transition from a blueprint to reality, and what is the secret for its many early-harvest deliverables in the past three years, and what can one learn from its success?

The "Belt and Road" Initiative owes its strong vitality to the rich historical heritage. Visits to the Western Regions by Chinese diplomatic envoy Zhang Qian 2,000 years ago heralded the start of the time-honored history of friendly exchanges between China and the Central Asian countries. From this, a Silk Road spanning from East to West and linking Asia with Europe developed.

Despite the tumultuous changes across the times, the flow of goods, technology, culture and people among countries in the region went on unabated, evidenced by the never-ending sound of camel bells and travel of caravans and cargo ships.

Exchange and mutual learning along the ancient Silk Road promoted the economic, cultural and social progress in various countries, facilitated the interaction and integration of different civilizations, and left behind splendid chapters in the history of humankind.

The ancient Silk Road is a witness to the common history and civilization of China and other countries along the routes. In the eyes of people in these countries, today's "Belt and Road" is not just a continuation and upgrade of the ancient Silk Road, but also a strong bond of friendship and cooperation bringing them together.

The "Belt and Road" Initiative owes its fast development to its response to the trend of times and needs of the region. Our world today is experiencing fast changes in its architecture and a stronger momentum toward multi-polarity. Global economic recovery is not yet firmly established, growth of trade and investment remains anemic, and driving forces of growth are not yet fully secured.

There is a pressing need for upgrading the basic infrastructure and connectivity in other respects between and among countries and sub-regions. With a high interdependence and our interests closely entwined, we in the global community need to leverage opportunities and meet challenges together.

The spirit the "Belt and Road" Initiative embodies-peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit-reflects China's commitment to building a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation and a community of shared future for mankind.

The Initiative also calls for shifting the model of growth and adjusting the industrial structure as needed for economic transformation and upgrading in all related countries. It will inject positive energy into the recovery of the global economy.

The "Belt and Road" Initiative owes its wide support and participation to an abiding commitment to the key concepts of "cooperation" and "win-win". As China repeatedly states, building the "Belt and Road" is no solo performance, but a symphony. In this process, China has followed the principle of wide consultation, joint construction and shared benefits, and adopted an equal and open approach, believing that all countries have a role to play and a difference to make.

Under this Initiative, China pursues no selfish interests, seeks no sphere of influence, has no intention to interfere in other countries' internal affairs or impose its will upon others, and does not wish to enter into rivalry with any country or existing mechanisms.

The Initiative puts itself above system-based prejudice and barriers of ideological difference. Instead, it focuses on development, the biggest common denominator among all. At a time of rising de-globalization and uncertainty, the Initiative is a strong force for open cooperation and free trade, aiming to help countries involved with their development at home in an improved environment to enhance the ability for domestically-driven growth.

Many have come to recognize that the Chinese want a better life for themselves and for others too, and that the Chinese believe in all going together so that together, we can go far.

The "Belt and Road" Initiative owes its bright prospects to the results-oriented, solid work over the past three years. With enhanced policy, facility, trade, financial and people connectivity among China and other countries along the routes, recent years have seen a series of major projects come to fruition.

In 2016, trade between China and other "Belt and Road" countries totaled 6.3 trillion RMB yuan. Chinese companies have established 56 economic cooperation zones in over 20 countries along the routes, making US$18.5 billion of investment, generating US$1.1 billion of taxes for host countries and creating 180,000 local jobs.

At present, the building of the economic corridors between China and other countries along the routes is well underway, a connectivity network is taking shape, and cooperation on major projects is making steady headway, producing a large number of early-harvest deliverables.

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Silk Road Fund provide strong support for the financial cooperation among various countries. It is fair to say that the "Belt and Road" Initiativehas become the most popular international public good and the most promising platform for international cooperation in today's world.

The Maltese Government has long shown high enthusiasm for the "Belt and Road" Initiative and a keen interest in working with the Chinese side to undertake the Mediterranean part of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

Enjoying a long friendship, China and Malta have, guided by their Mid-term Cooperation Plan, conducted fruitful cooperation in the political, economic, cultural and other fields in recent years.

2015 saw Malta joining the AIIB as a founding member. China wishes to work with Malta to form synergy between our development strategies under the "Belt and Road" framework, and elevate the practical cooperation to a higher level so as to deliver greater benefits to people of the two countries.

At this critical moment in human history, the BRF, carrying the high expectation of the global community, offers a great opportunity for all participants to discuss, plan, undertake and share in the cooperation, ready to take the "Belt and Road" Initiative to its next stage.

China wishes to welcome Malta and all other friends to this Initiative. Together, let us make the Forum fruitful and successful, as the "Belt and Road" is not only an initiative from China but also an opportunity for the world.

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