Foreign political leaders call for better understanding of BRI

By Li Shen
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, June 4, 2019
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Foreign political leaders stressed the need to raise awareness of the nature and mutual benefits of the Belt and Road Initiative at a Belt and Road Forum for Interconnected Land-Sea Development held in Chongqing on June 3.

Former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin takes questions on the sideline of the Belt and Road Forum for Interconnected Land-Sea Development held in Chongqing on June 3, 2019. [Photo by Li Shen]

Speaking at the event's opening ceremony, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong declared: "Facing the challenges of trade protectionism and unilateralism, we need connectivity and cooperation more than ever before. And the 'Belt and Road' Initiative is a catalyst for connectivity and shared development within or among regions."

All the countries along the Belt and Road needed to build a community with closer ties and realize common development and prosperity through land-sea interconnected development and regional synergy, he added.

His view was shared by Marko Djuric, vice president of Serbian Progressive Party. To him, the Belt and Road could only be built with interconnected land-sea development, i.e., to leverage the comparative advantages of land and maritime transportation in promoting coordinated development and synergy of various land and maritime economies.

"It is not aimed at establishing a new regional or global form of hegemony, but rests on the principle of voluntary recognition of the interests of each of the countries involved," Djuric said.

Serbia has recognized the importance and potential of the BRI since its initial launch, and has long been one of the most honest promoters of the initiative. Statistics in 2018 show bilateral trade between Serbia and China amounted to approximately $2,26 billion, a year-on-year increase of about $400 million. The two-way flow of investment has reached almost $10 billion.

The biggest individual foreign investment made in Serbia in 2018 was from China, involving the mining sector, with an investment plan worth $1.5 billion.

Djuric continued: "China is the undisputed leader in advocating a balanced, harmonious and equal-for-all international development, and this process is unstoppable."

He condemned all unprincipled attempts to slow down or preclude China's free and peaceful development, adding: "It is precisely in times of such challenges that we have to be more than ever dedicated to cooperation, peace, respect for international law and international rules, and strive to build harmonious international economic and political relations."

Speaking on similar lines, former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said global trade was being harmed by the escalation of China-U.S. trade friction. In the worst scenario, global economic growth would suffer a 3% decline in 2019. "In such context, the BRI is a major alternative to economic slowdown and trade confrontation."

The BRI has already connected over 100 countries, with 68% of the world's population, 75% of the known energy resources, and producing 36% of the global GDP. "It has become a political and culture milestone of a new globalization based on more cooperation, balance and sustainability," De Villepin said.

He continued: "Never before has there been a greater necessity to encourage talk and international debates as we do now in this forum. It is our duty in political areas, business circles, universities and think tanks to raise awareness of the mutual benefit of the BRI. This is the only way of acting concretely for the future generations."

About 150 political leaders, scholars, and representatives of the business community and the media from over 30 countries are attending the three-day forum.

With the theme of "Shaping a New Shared Future for Interconnected Land-Sea Development," the high-level international forum focuses on cooperation and development under the BRI, and follows the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing in April. 

The forum also issued a "Chongqing Initiative" on Monday, hoping to join hands with different parties to promote the development of the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, deliver high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, and contribute to the peace, development, and shared prosperity of countries across the region.

The forum is co-organized by the Silk Road Think Tank Association, initiated by the International Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, together with the Chongqing municipal government. 

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