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The “One Belt & One Road” initiative, proposed by China, will push global trade and investment to the limits of sky besides creating the largest economic corridor of the world, said Liu Yunshan, a top leader of the Communist Party of China.

Liu, who is the first-ranked secretary of the Chinese Central Secretariat besides being a Politburo member, also called for closer media cooperation among the “Belt & Road” countries.

Liu, who holds a number of important offices in China, made the remarks as he met with about 120 journalists from 60 countries on the sidelines of a high-profile Beijing forum on media cooperation along the ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’ and the ‘21st-Century Maritime Silk Road’.

Comparing the media to a bridge connecting people, Liu hoped the press would “increase exchanges and cooperation, with a view to injecting positive energy into the Belt and Road Initiative.”

In fact, the “One Belt & One Road” initiative launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping will directly impact 4.4 billion people, more than 63 percent of the world’s population.

The initiative will see the trade and investment of $21 trillion, which represents about 29 percent of the total global volume.

The essence of the initiative, however, is an inclusive project open to all countries as well as international and regional organizations.

Referring to the initiative, Liu said the “Belt and Road” is more like a chorus by all countries along the route than a solo by China, which will “provide opportunities for the whole world.”

In fact, the initiative has led to a notable improvement to diversify China’s trade partners.

Also, a strong momentum was seen in exports to emerging markets and nations along the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Road.

China’s exports to countries along the Belt and Road such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt increased by double-digit percentages recently. Same is the case with many other countries with which China will be working within the framework of this initiative.

“Now it is the role of the media to spread awareness about this initiative, which calls for sustained global growth especially for nations along the old trading route,” said Liu.

To this end, he welcomed the hosting of the “Media Cooperation Forum on One Belt & One Road” in Beijing in Sept. 2015. The forum aimed at promoting and generating awareness about the initiative, which was launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, when he visited the Central and Southeast Asian countries.  In March 2015, the Chinese government released the format of the initiative that explained the content of the “One Belt and One Road”.

Inspired by the vision, the People’s Daily, the largest Chinese newspaper whose daily circulation exceeds 3.4 million, hosted the 2015 Media Cooperation Forum on “One Belt and One Road,” with the theme “Common destiny and new patterns of cooperation”. 

The forum, attended by more than 120 journalists from around the world, aimed at deepening the media cooperation among the “Belt and Road” countries.

Wang Jiarui, vice-chairman of the CPPCC and minister of the International Department of the Central Committee of the CPC, delivered a speech at the opening ceremony.

Yang Zhenwu, president of the People’s Daily, also addressed the opening ceremony, while Li Baoshan, editor in chief of People Daily, hosted the event at the Convention Center in Beijing in the presence of top-ranking Chinese officials, journalists from foreign countries and a large number of newsmen from Chinese media.

The forum was also addressed by Guo Gengmao, secretary of China’s CPC Henan Provincial Committee; Zhao Shengyong, secretary of Shaanxi Provincial Committee; Wang Sanyun, secretary of CPC Gansu Provincial Committee; Qian Kming, China’s vice commerce minister; Tang Shuangning, chairman of China Everbright Group; Zhang Lei, vice governor of China’s Jiangsu Province and many more Chinese officials and journalists.

Speaking at the event, Wang said that the media’s role is to “remove misunderstanding and doubt of this initiative.”

He said that the initiative will involve an area that covers 55 percent of world’s Gross National Product (GNP) and 70 percent of the global population. He further said that the initiative, in fact, is a huge trade and infrastructure network that includes the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

The initiative envisages strengthening cooperation and increasing competitive advantages of countries which will create a modern trade route known as the Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

The blueprint includes a network of highways, railways and other critical infrastructure linking China to Central and South Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

The initiative that creates a sprawling economic zone consists of two main components — a land-based Silk Road Economic Belt linking Central Asia and Europe, and a Maritime Silk Road spanning Southeast Asia and the Middle East. It is in the maritime component, where China sees Indonesia as being a star player. 

The Strait of Malacca, between Indonesia and the Malay Peninsula, is China’s maritime oil lifeline. The Xi administration therefore sees the rail link in Indonesia as crucial to promoting its plans.

Turkey is another country Beijing regards as strategically important. Because of its location, the nation is seen by Xi and his team as an ideal link between China and Europe.

That is why in September, CIC Capital, established by the China Investment Corp. sovereign wealth fund, decided to acquire 65 percent of outstanding shares in Kumport Terminal, a leading Turkish container terminal near Istanbul, for $940 million.

Spelling out the details of the initiative, a report released during the Beijing media forum, said: “Commonly referred to in English as the Belt and Road initiative, the program aims to unlock massive trade potential and bolster economic development to the so-called belt— the land route starting in western China that crosses through Central Asia to the Middle East— as well as to the so-called road, the maritime route around Southeast Asia, the Gulf, and the Horn of Africa.”

“The Belt and Road initiative pursues development projects that enhance the domestic economic viability of potential trade partners,” said the report.

For example, investments with Southeast Asian countries include large infrastructure projects— ports, energy plants, and urban housing— that meet the host countries’ development demands.

The theme of integration and connectivity inherent to the Belt and Road initiative is in sync with other similar regional initiatives, such as the still-developing Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity.

Through Chinese government-backed financial institutions and the $40 billion Silk Road Fund, Chinese loans offer financing beyond what partner governments or other international institutions are offering.

The Belt and Road initiative is heavily invested in countries that have both a strong government relationship with China and hold popular support for Chinese investment.

China’s bilateral relationships with partner countries have been key— both in ensuring political support for Chinese-led development, as well as in providing domestic security and engagement with villages and workers affected by Chinese projects.

In fact, China’s strong political connections on the government level have been useful for its economic activity in partner countries.

For example, Pakistan has promised to provide domestic security forces for its $46 billion Chinese-led Belt and Road initiative projects.

In short, one can conclude that the Belt and Road initiative is fulfilling a global demand for investment and development that can connect millions of people and spur increased economic growth for both China and many other nations stuck in their development paths.

With the international development community prioritizing sustainability, it is in the interest of China, the US, and partner countries to ensure that the Belt and Road initiative continues to evolve and adapt in the coming months and years.

Such adaptation can not only achieve important economic development — it can also ensure China does so sustainably and in a manner that does not undermine that very development.

Thursday, Oct 15, 2015 2:26 pm

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