The spillover effect of China's economic development and its BRI project

By Mahendra Subedi
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, March 21, 2019
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Photo taken on April 21, 2016 shows a freight train from Wuhan of China arriving for the first time at the freight railway station in Saint-Priest, outside Lyon, southeastern France. [Photo/Xinhua]

This year's annual political gathering of China's legislators, held against the backdrop of what Premier Li Keqiang characterized as "an extremely complex domestic and international environment," is expected to give a new turn to the Chinese economy and help revitalize the global economy.

Despite downward pressure on China's economy, the weak foundations of agricultural and rural infrastructure, mounting pressure on its real economy, some paucity in high-quality development, regional disparities and potential risks, China's neighboring countries as well as the wider region are banking on China's ability to overcome its challenges. China's neighbors are confident because it knows that China can deal with unprecedented socio-economic challenges and work with other countries while respecting their sovereignty. This can be seen in China's conduct while implementing its flagship Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). 

Highlighting the role of China's ambitious BRI projects, Premier Li said, "We will step up cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, pursue high-standards as well as more thorough and comprehensive liberalization in more sectors." Li's statement made in the opening meeting of this year's NPC session represents China's call to its BRI partners for more collaboration and cooperation to bring about high-quality development and to lay a robust foundation for sustainable development. Likewise, China's emergence as the second largest economy with a GDP exceeding 90 trillion yuan (nearly US$13.4 trillion) is itself noteworthy especially to developing countries that have been receiving economic benefits from China's miraculous development.

China's focus on major projects such as infrastructure construction, industrial-capacity cooperation, and its commitment to addressing key problems such as those relating to financial support, the investment environment, risk management, and security, is a welcome step for its BRI partners that are reeling from a financial crunch. China is also deepening its relations with its BRI partners, and partner countries have experienced improved people-to-people relations, economic ties and cultural exchanges, and have also seen an exponential growth in the number of Chinese tourists. For example, Nepal used to receive around 10,000 Chinese tourists annually in the early 2000s, but in the initial months of 2019 over 17,000 Chinese tourists visited the country.

Not only does China have the highest number of outbound tourists globally, it is also the top FDI contributor to many countries and the top trading partner to almost all its neighboring countries as well as to several major economies in the world. China is currently the largest trading partner to Pakistan, Vietnam, Malaysia and a key trading partner of the EU, the United States and India. In addition, China is also the largest goods manufacturer globally and has had stable and consistent policies since it launched national reform and opening up some 40 years ago. This major reform program has helped China to grow by leaps and bounds to become the world's second largest economy. That is why the key decisions adopted by the recent session of the NPC to help Chinese companies "go global," to reform FDI laws and deepen collaboration with its neighbors hold great significance. 

Keenly aware of the importance of stable development, China has long contributed to maintaining peace in the region and the world, not merely through words, but by its actions. Many countries keenly await China's policy position and its programs for BRI partners and other countries. So China's announcement on key areas like its decisive fight against poverty and pollution, its calls for high-quality development, sustained economic growth, job creation, investment on R&D, digital technology and human resource development will benefit not only itself but also other countries in meeting the sustainable development goals (SD) set by the United Nations. Tapping into China's economic growth is in the broader interests of the receiving countries and the world at large.

Mahendra Subedi is a social researcher and commentator from Nepal currently based in Beijing.

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