The Belt & Road Initiative

From vision to fruition.

May 2, 2019 22:02
4 minute read.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands ahead of their talks at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China March 21, 2017. (photo credit: ETIENNE OLIVEAU/POOL/REUTERS)

The Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) was held from April 25 to 27 in Beijing. More than 6,000 foreign guests from 150 countries and 92 international organizations attended, including heads of state and government from 37 foreign countries. Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech at the opening ceremony, and chaired and the leaders’ roundtable, which he also addressed. The success of the Second BRF, with a list of deliverables that included 283 concrete results, sent out three important messages which I would like to share with my friends and readers in Israel.

1. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has yielded remarkable achievements.

The joint pursuit of the BRI, which was first proposed by President Xi about six years ago, aims to enhance connectivity and practical cooperation. It is about jointly meeting various challenges and risks confronting mankind and delivering win-win outcomes and common development. The BRI may be China’s idea, but its opportunities and outcomes are going to benefit the world.

Over the past six years, more than 150 countries and international organizations have signed agreements on Belt and Road cooperation with China, a large number of cooperation projects have been launched, and a general connectivity framework has been put in place.

Over those same six years, total trade between China and other Belt and Road countries has exceeded $6 trillion, and China’s investment in these countries has surpassed $80 billion. The 82 cooperation parks jointly built by China and other participating countries have created more than $2 billion in tax revenue and about 300,000 jobs for host countries.

Through BRI cooperation, countries such as Jamaica, Montenegro and Uganda now have their first expressways, and Belarus has developed its own car industry. By the end of 2018, China-Europe rail service had connected 108 cities in 16 countries in Asia and Europe. A total of 13,000 trains had carried more than 1.1 million TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units).

The latest studies by the World Bank and other international institutions suggest that the BRI cooperation will cut the costs of global trade by 1.1% to 2.2%, and those of trade along the China-Central Asia-West Asia Economic Corridor by 10.2%. What is more, it will contribute at least 0.1% of global growth in 2019. The list of BRI success stories can go on and on.

2. High-quality Belt and Road cooperation will be jointly promoted.

After six years of BRI cooperation, China and the BRI participating countries have all learned that the high-quality cooperation of the BRI is a realistic need to promote strong and inclusive growth of the world economy. It is also the natural extension of China’s economy’s entry into a stage of high-quality development.

High-quality Belt and Road cooperation will be guided by the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. The spirit of multilateralism will be embraced. The direction of common development of all countries will be reflected.
High-quality Belt and Road cooperation is open, green and clean cooperation, which means keeping inclusive, promoting green development and having zero tolerance for corruption.

High-quality Belt and Road cooperation is high standard cooperation to improve people’s lives and promote sustainable development. The widely accepted rules and standards will be adopted, the laws and regulations of participating countries will be respected, the commercial and fiscal sustainability of all projects will be ensured and the people of participating countries will be truly benefited.

To provide guidance for BRI financing cooperation, two major documents – namely the Guiding Principles on Financing the Development of the Belt and Road and the Debt Sustainability Framework for Participating Countries of the Belt and Road Initiative – have been adopted and published during the Second BRF.

3. China will further open its doors to the outside world.

After 40 years of reform and opening-up, China now is determined to further open its market to the world. Last April, China announced the plan to build Hainan, an island province in Southern China, into a pilot free-trade zone. Last month, the People’s Congress of China passed the Foreign Investment Law which is designed to better protect and attract foreign investment through legislative means.

In the process of advancing the BRI, China will make stronger institutional and structural moves to boost higher quality opening-up. China will expand market access for foreign investment in more areas, allow the operation of foreign-controlled or wholly foreign-owned businesses in more sectors.

We believe that innovation boosts productivity; it makes companies competitive and countries strong. While encouraging domestic innovation and innovative cooperation with partners from the world, China is determined to intensify its efforts to enhance protection of the lawful rights and interests of foreign intellectual property owners.

China is both a global factory and a global market. According to the eMarketer report released in January, retail sales in China will reach more than $5.6 trillion this year. In order to steadily open China’s market wider to quality products and services from across the world, China will increase the import of goods and services on an even larger scale, further lower tariffs, and remove various non-tariff barriers. 

The messages we got from the Second BRF are good news to China-Israel practical cooperation. We are happy to see that bilateral cooperation in various fields has borne fruitful results in the past years. In 2018, trade volume between our two countries reached nearly $14 billion.

The BRI has turned ideas into actions and vision into fruition. It has been proved to be a belt of cooperation and win-win and a road to opportunity and prosperity. China is looking forward to working closely with the new government of Israel to further promote the China-Israel Innovative Comprehensive Partnership and BRI cooperation.

The writer is the ambassador of China to the State of Israel.

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