BRF: A model of participatory development

By Sajjad Malik
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, April 25, 2019
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People take selfies in front of a flower arrangement set up to mark the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, on April 22, 2019. [Photo/]

China is making an effort to bring the world together through a more just and participatory international order that cares for everyone, irrespective of size, power and global clout, and that addresses key issues like poverty and joblessness. 

The second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) is a testimony to that endeavor. Since its launch in 2017, the BRF has widened its appeal, evident by the growing number of participants. 

The first international forum was able to attract 29 heads of state and representatives from more than 130 countries. This year, 37 heads of state or government are attending. 

They include Russian President Vladimir Putin, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and leaders of all 10 Southeast Asian, or ASEAN, nations.

Representatives of international organizations such as the United Nations, World Bank and International Monetary Fund will also be at the meeting. The total number of participants could be as high as 5,000.

The increase in the number of foreign guests is an indication not only of growing interest in China and the phenomenon of its development, but also of greater acceptance of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as a concept and commercial model for economic progress.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the event will feature 12 thematic sub-forums. Additionally, a CEO conference of 800 business leaders will be held for the first time, providing a platform for business agreements and multilateral engagements for participants from all over the world. 

The BRI has made great strides since it was unveiled in 2013. The BRF, meanwhile, has provided a unique meeting place for different nations to play a role in global development and gain economic and commercial advantages in the process.

China is offering both resources and guidance in initiating and expanding business activities as part of the BRI. It is not limited to any single country or place, but rather it is an open-ended enterprise of which everyone can become a part. 

The BRI works not in isolation, but complementing on-going developmental activities. Its role is to enhance development and progress by sharing knowledge, experience and resources.  

According to data, the total trade volume between China and participating countries reached US$6 trillion between 2013 and 2018, which shows fast-track progress. 

And, this is not just trade, as China has so far reportedly provided US$80 billion in direct foreign investment in these countries. It has also signed 173 deals with 125 countries and 29 international organizations under the BRI.

The mega-initiative of the Belt and Road has become the mainstay of globalization, which is recently coming under threat by the inward-looking policies of the United States, which was once the main proponent of unhindered global trade and investment. 

China stepped in at the right moment to shoulder the responsibilities of global economic engagement, even as others were retreating and building protective walls to safeguard their narrow commercial interests. 

When the initiative was first announced in 2013, different concerns were expressed by different countries. Some said it could be a tool for increasing Chinese influence in the guise of helping others in business. 

But subsequent developments have proven that much of that criticism was unfounded. The consultation mechanism created in the shape of the BRF has further scuttled the criticism, as it is a podium that any leader can use to raise issues and concerns. 

The forum provides an opportunity for world leaders and experts to sit together to discuss policy matters and suggest remedies. There might be disagreement and divergence as different nations try to safeguard their own interests, but the central theme and the spirit of the BRI will remain the same. 

And that spirit, that fundamental idea is this: coming together to forge "win-win cooperation" for a "shared future for all mankind." 

Sajjad Malik is a columnist with For more information please visit:

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