Belt and Road--An Initiative for Win-win Cooperation (by H.E. Jiang Jiang, Chinese Ambassador to Malta)

The Silk Road has an ancient history and a promising future. Since President Xi Jinping put forward the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in late 2013, it has become a reality and is yielding fruitful results. To date, China has signed Belt and Road cooperation agreements with 80 countries and organizations, conducted industrial capacity cooperation with over 30 countries, and built 75 overseas economic cooperation zones in 24 countries. Chinese businesses have invested over US$60 billion in Belt and Road partner countries and created nearly 200,000 jobs in them.

To facilitate the initiative, China has launched the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Silk Road Fund. By the end of 2017, the AIIB had approved more than 20 investment projects totaling over US$3.7 billion. The Silk Road Fund has signed off 17 deals and committed investments worth US$7 billion. When attending the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing last May, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said that Belt and Road could help make economic globalization more balanced, inclusive and harmonious, and contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. He called on all parties to seize the opportunity and actively participate in the initiative for win-win outcomes.

Quite a few Maltese friends have asked me about the secret behind the rapid success of the Belt and Road Initiative. My answer is that it echoes the call for mutual benefit and common development, and follows the basic principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits.

“Extensive consultation” emphasizes equality. China has always believed in mutual respect and treating each other as equals, and advocated mutual accommodation and dialogue among civilizations. Despite their differences in national condition, development stage and cultural background, all participants of Belt and Road are equally important partners. We take the view that all the Belt and Road projects must be open and transparent. We make sure that they are aligned with the development strategy and long-term plan of the participating countries. They shall give enough flexibility to and fully accommodate the reasonable concerns of all parties in the spirit of seeking common ground, respecting differences and pursuing common prosperity.

“Joint contribution” emphasizes openness. President Xi Jinping stressed that the Belt and Road is open to all friends. Wherever they are from, Asia, Europe, Africa or the Americas, they all can be partners in building the Belt and Road. We don’t exclude any country. China welcomes the participation of any country which endorses the Silk Road Spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit. In fact, all participating countries may have felt strongly that the BRI is by no means a geopolitical tool, but rather an open and inclusive platform for international cooperation.

“Shared benefits” emphasizes win-win results. The BRI follows China’s traditional preference for mutual benefit, common interests and cooperation for common development. Despite the volatility of the global situation, it advocates a vision of respecting others’ interests while pursuing one’s own and advances common interests of all. It is China’s wish to not only promote the sustainable growth of its own economy, but also take an active part in regional cooperation. What China seeks is the overall benefits of common development for all. The Belt and Road is a modern version of the Chinese approach of putting the greater good before self-interests. It represents a new vision of global governance and charts a new course for globalization that China is committed to advancing together with other countries.

Take the cooperation between China and Europe for example. In 2017, the China-Europe cargo train services reached 36 European cities in 13 countries and made Chinese and European goods more accessible to each other’s market. In Serbia, a Chinese enterprise bought a troubled steel mill and turned it around in less than a year. In Greece, the Port of Piraeus regained its position as one of the largest ports in Europe with Chinese participation. In the UK, China is partnering with France to build a nuclear power plant, a stellar example of tripartite cooperation under the BRI. A European think tank estimates that the EU’s external trade will increase by 6 percent thanks to the BRI.

The BRI is bringing a golden opportunity for cooperation between China and Malta. Malta is located in the heart of the Mediterranean and neighbors Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. It enjoys a unique geographical position and favorable investment environment. In 2014, the Chinese and Maltese governments signed a MOU on Mid-term Cooperation. In 2015, Malta joined the AIIB as a founding member. In 2017, our bilateral trade grew by 31.4 percent year on year. Chinese investment projects by Shanghai Electric, Huawei, RHZL and AbaChem in Malta are making steady advances.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up. Going forward, China’s door will open even wider, for this serves our own interests as well as those of others. China will host its first International Import Expo in Shanghai in November and the second Belt and Road Form for International Cooperation next year. We welcome Malta and other countries to participate in these events under the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. We firmly believe that so long as we all work together as partners on this promising initiative, we will embrace a better future.

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