BEIJING, Sept. 6, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Through the lens of five foreign pundits, we take a look at 10 years of the BRI – how it achieves win-win cooperation between China and countries along the Belt and Road and how it increases people’s sense of fulfillment in these countries.
Martin Jacques, a visiting professor at the Institute of Modern International Relations at Tsinghua University and a senior fellow at the China Institute, Fudan University
The launch of BRI was to signal a huge shift in China’s relationship with the world. It marked the moment of China’s coming out. And it was to prove remarkably successful. It is not an exaggeration to argue that over the decade of its existence it has changed the world.
In what ways?
First, BRI promoted the question of development to a position of fundamental centrality on the global stage. Second, BRI forged a new kind of relationship between China and the developing world. Third, BRI paved the way for a new kind of global alignment and, as a result, a new kind of global politics. Fourth, BRI has introduced, for the first time, key tenets of Chinese philosophy to the wider world. Fifth, BRI is an entirely new kind of international institution. It offers a glimpse of a very different kind of international system in which the interests of the majority rather than the minority predominate.
It is important to see BRI as a dynamic institution, one that is constantly moving and changing as the world itself changes. In the initial phase, the main emphasis was on very large-scale infrastructural projects, but alongside these, SMEs, environmental and climatic needs, digital technology, and green projects have been acquiring growing significance. An obvious example of how BRI can ebb and flow depending on the wider environment was the pandemic which inevitably led to a period of significantly reduced Chinese investment.
Stephen Brawer, Chairman of the Belt and Road Institute in Sweden
I think it’s very clear that the world is opening their doors to the initiative, and I see that there is a shift in the direction of world policy. It’s very positive for global development.
The initial BRI has been a platform. In addition to extending the willingness to work with the rest of the developing countries to bring fruition, the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative, and the Global Civilization Initiative, are continued moderation of the initial idea and develop different and more substantial ways of making the success of global development and the BRI work.
Francesco Maringiò, an Italian China expert and president of the New Silk Road Promotion Association of Italy
I prefer to focus on the potentiality of the impact of the BRI in Italy. Italy’s potential to play a pivotal role in the BRI is very high. Since Italy is located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, and of course, the north of the country is interconnected with Central and Northern Europe, it could be a perfect hub for communication and trade, particularly for connecting the south – I mean the MENA [Middle East and North Africa] region – and Northern Europe and for interconnecting the shipping with rail and freight routes. That’s the potential role that Italy can play, according to the logistic point of view in the framework of the BRI.
Integration is a very hot topic in Europe now. But we know that a peaceful environment is essential to the BRI. So since Italy and all Europe are really affected by the consequences of the war, we should attach more importance to interconnecting and integrating the Eurasian continent. In this way, we can find the proper source from diplomatic and economic fields and any point of view. That’s our primary goal at this time.
Besides, the BRI can help rebuild infrastructure, make trade flourish again, and find financial and economic support for reconstruction – all these are what we need to bear in mind. Otherwise, this situation will negatively affect the people involved and whole Europe. And it will increase the division between the European and Asian parts of the Eurasian continent.
Jerrie Ueberle, founder and president of Global Interactions, Inc., a Phoenix-based non-profit corporation
The real value of the BRI will be its continuing value if it’s ever completed. If it ever comes to completion, the amount of knowledge that is shared, the amount of exchange of ideas, and the amount of creative new ideas will just mount as we go through the process of it being developed, and it’s a long process.
It’s not a 10-year program. It’s a long-term program, and probably the more countries get into it, the more they will see that needs to be developed. So it’s kind of endless and timeless in terms of what it will take to actually know its value and see the gifts that it will bring. It is like a towering mountain, the higher you climb, the greater distance you can see and the more ideas and awareness will become known to you.
Through being connected, we understand one another better. We may not agree with each other as we’re connected, but we will understand. And as the world becomes connected and we understand, there is more possibility for peace, growth and prosperity.
So I believe that the more we can connect with people, whether we build roads, pathways, skyways, or bridges that get people to come together for purposes, the safer, better and more productive the world will be for everyone.
People will discover ways to have a better world that works for everyone when they begin to know one another personally and learn their values and purpose. When we know what is important to others, we see them in a different way and how to be with them and support them in their purposes.
Ong Tee Keat, president of the Belt & Road Initiative Caucus for Asia Pacific, senior fellow of Taihe Institute, and former Malaysian minister of transport
Dubbed as one of the hubs for both the maritime and land routes of the BRI, Southeast Asia is anticipated to have more infrastructure development, notably the rail connectivity, under the BRI framework in years to come.
Alongside the conventional infrastructure, the growing significance of digital connectivity will call for extensive demands for digital infrastructure across the region. This is likely to be the mainstay of the BRI in its next phase of implementation.
Parallel to this, both the green economy and blue economy are the other twin drivers that may dominate the agenda for China-ASEAN economic cooperation.
Alongside the digital economy, notably the e-commerce, the green economy is identified as the key driver in the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area 3.0 blueprint. The significance of the blue economy is clearly manifested in the ASEAN Leaders’ Declaration on Blue Economy in 2021.
In view of this, the China-ASEAN collaboration looks set to morph multi-dimensionally with the inclusion of more human connectivity and cultural engagement. All these fall in line with the priorities entailed in the ASEAN 2025 Vision.