SCIO briefing on 'The Belt and Road Initiative: Progress, Contributions and Prospects'

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Xiao Weiming, director general of the Department of General Affairs at the Office of the Leading Group for Promoting the Belt and Road Initiative;

Song Lihong, director general of the Comprehensive Department at the Ministry of Commerce

Hu Kaihong, spokesperson for the State Council Information Office of China

April 22, 2019

Beijing Youth Daily: 

According to the report, China has signed cooperation documents with more than 150 countries and international organizations as well as standardization cooperation agreements with more than 40 countries and regions. My question is, what else should China consider when trying to promote the connectivity of policies, standards and regulations with these parties in addition to the implementation of the agreements and documents?

Xiao Weiming:

Thank you for your question. With the further development of the plan to jointly build the Belt and Road Initiative, the aspect of connectivity has transformed from a "hard" concept in the past five years that mainly involves infrastructure construction, to a "soft" one that now involves standards and regulations. Or, at least equal stress has been placed on both aspects. In my opinion, the integration of the "soft" aspect of the BRI is more important and lasts longer than that of the "hard" aspect, to some extent. This is because all the physical connectivity will depend on the connectivity of standards and regulations eventually. So we are keenly aware of the heavy responsibilities we bear and have already launched an effort to specifically work on the integration of standards and regulations which are already included in the key points of our work in 2019. Related departments have also been instructed to carry out work in this aspect. Here, I would like to emphasize a few points:

First, on the connectivity of policies, I believe that more is better and this is a process that is always underway. The Belt and Road Initiative is an open and inclusive one. We welcome any country that wants to build the Belt and Road Initiative with us. In addition to the more than 150 countries and international organizations you have mentioned before, we welcome and are waiting for other countries to join us.

Second, as for the connectivity of standards and regulations, this is a long and arduous task. It's easy for us to speak in general terms about this issue but, in reality, it's very complicated when you sit down to negotiate about integration. Since the beginning of last century or the end of the 19th century, people have started to draw up international standards and regulations. Among those standards and regulations, there are some related to the Belt and Road Initiative and can be roughly classified into three categories, namely international law, international private law and international economic law. As for the standards of international economic law, those of investment and trade are the top priorities. Aspects like trade, investment, transportation, finance, insurance, intellectual property protection and labor are already included in investment and trade standards. Furthermore, each aspect includes many international treaties, conventions and agreements. So you have to negotiate them individually when you plan to integrate a specific standard or regulation. 

Third, the Chinese government firmly supports the multilateral trading system and free trade based on rules, and upholds the UN Charter. It also observes the international law and the basic norms governing international relations and adheres to international treaties, conventions and agreements China has entered into and participated in. China has always been willing to make her own contributions to the improvement of international standards and regulations based on international treaties, conventions and agreements.

So I think the connectivity of standards and regulations will become the key point of our work in the next phase as we hold the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation and implement its outcomes. Thank you.

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