SCIO press conference on white paper 'The Belt and Road Initiative: A Key Pillar of the Global Community of Shared Future'

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I have two sets of questions. First, what is the situation of railway operations under the BRI? What are the situations for both freight and passenger transport? How does the current situation differ from that of five and 10 years ago? Second, the Boston University Global Development Policy Center estimated that China reduced loans to Africa in 2021 and 2022. What are the reasons for this reduction? Considering the slow growth of the global economy, how will China's loans to foreign governments be impacted? Are there any changes expected in China's existing or future loan terms? Thank you.

Cong Liang:

Thank you for your questions. In terms of railway operations, our enterprises have built and operated a number of railway projects in collaboration with other BRI countries over the past decade. Notable examples include the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway and the Hungary-Serbia Railway. The opening of these railways has provided more convenient travel experiences for local people and injected new and strong impetus into economic and social development along the routes. I would like to share a specific example: the China-Europe Railway Express, a significant outcome of BRI cooperation. Since its opening, it has consistently maintained safe, stable, and smooth operations. This has made positive contributions to the economic and social development of countries along its routes, earning widespread participation and recognition from the international community.

Firstly, it has fostered a new model of international transport between Asia and Europe. The China-Europe Railway Express has improved the land transportation network spreading across Asia and Europe, opening up a new logistics channel running across the two continents that is characterized by all-weather accessibility, high volume, environmental sustainability, low carbon emissions, safety, and smooth operations. This has resulted in a spatial layout that connects sea and land transport and extends in multiple directions. By the end of September, the China-Europe Railway Express had reached 217 cities in 25 European countries, completing over 78,000 trips and transporting more than 7.4 million TEUs. The cargo transported by these trains has increased from 1.5% of the total China-Europe trade volume in 2016 to 8% in 2022. 

Second, we have ensured the stability of international industrial and supply chains. Characterized by safety, stability, and resilience, the China-Europe Railway Express has significantly expanded the variety of goods transported. Initially focusing primarily on digital products, it now handles more than 50,000 types of goods across 53 categories. In particular, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the China-Europe Railway Express achieved trend-bucking growth, with an average annual increase of 26.3%, defying disruptions to global logistics systems. It transported nearly 15 million pieces of pandemic-related materials and was recognized as a "lifeline" for international pandemic cooperation.

Third, the China-Europe Railway Express has promoted economic and social development among BRI partner countries. This express service has established a new platform for economic and trade cooperation along its route, facilitating the transportation of over $300 billion worth of goods. New business formats such as "cross-border e-commerce trains," "postal trains," as well as combinations such as "trains + parks" and "trains + ports," have continued to emerge, bringing numerous development opportunities for partner countries across various sectors, including industry, trade, investment, and employment, among other aspects.

In September this year, the first China-Europe Railway Express International Cooperation Forum was held, and attended by national representatives from 29 countries, resulting in 48 cooperation agreements. It provided a significant platform for deepening the development of the China-Europe Railway Express. In the future, we will adhere to the approach of consultation and cooperation for shared benefits, collaborating with BRI partner countries to develop and preserve this important global public asset, injecting fresh vigor and vitality into the world's economic recovery. Our emphasis will be on establishing the "four major systems."

First, we need to build an efficient transportation system. We will intensify our efforts to strengthen the alignment of strategic planning, accelerate the improvement of multilateral and bilateral inter-governmental cooperation mechanisms for the China-Europe Railway Express, coordinate and resolve issues at ports, customs clearance, transportation routes, and other junctures, and continuously consolidate the foundation for international cooperation.

Second, we need to establish a robust safety governance system. Our focus will be on strengthening safety risk management along the China-Europe Railway Express route, deepening information exchange and law enforcement cooperation, collectively enhancing emergency response capabilities, and proactively shaping an international transportation safety model.

Third, we need to build a multi-channel system. In addition to constructing and efficiently utilizing existing transportation routes, we will jointly explore new international transportation channels and accelerate the development of a diversified China-Europe Railway Express transportation network. We will continue to leverage various investment and financing channels to provide relevant support for channel construction.

Fourth, we need to innovate the development system. We will collectively advance the informatization, digitalization, and intelligent construction of the China-Europe Railway Express, actively explore and develop new models such as "people-to-people express" and "tourism express" services, and expedite the adoption of green and environmentally friendly technologies to ensure that the China-Europe Railway Express brings greater benefits to the people along its routes.

Regarding your concerns about loans, China, as a responsible major developing country, will remain committed to the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. We will adhere to international conventions, market principles, and debt sustainability principles. We will collaborate with relevant countries to consistently enhance a long-term, stable, sustainable, and risk-controllable investment and financing system, actively innovate investment and financing models, expand investment and financing channels, improve the stability, transparency, and quality of our capital guarantee system, and make positive contributions to promoting the common development of all countries.

Thank you. 

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