Belt and Road Initiative not a 'vanity project'

By Liu Qiang
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, April 26, 2019
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The opening ceremony of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation is held at the China National Convention Center in Beijing, capital of China, April 26, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

Leaders from 37 countries, including Russia and Italy, are gathering in Beijing to attend the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. Many people have noticed that the United States is absent from the guest list. 

"The United States has no plans to send officials from Washington to the Belt and Road Forum," a U.S. embassy spokesperson told AFP in an email.

America's snub to the forum is not unexpected. Last month, just before Italy became the first G7 member to sign up for China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Garrett Marquis, Special Assistant to President Trump, tweeted that there was "no need for the Italian government to lend legitimacy to China's infrastructure vanity project."

However, if people were to take a closer look at what China and other Belt and Road countries have achieved since it was proposed in 2013, they would reconsider labeling it as a "vanity project." 

According to the statistics of China's Ministry of Commerce, the accumulated Chinese investment in overseas economic and trade zones has reached nearly US$40 billion, creating more than 300,000 jobs.

From 2013 to 2018, the goods trade volume between China and countries involved in the BRI surpassed US$6 trillion, with an average annual growth rate of 4%.

A China Railway (CR) Express cargo train leaves for Minsk from Shijiazhuang, north China's Hebei province on June 2, 2018. [Photo/Xinhua]

Time and facts have proven China's sincerity in building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa to seek common development and prosperity. It is China's sincerity and tangible benefits that have made the BRI more and more attractive. 

In 2018 alone, over 60 nations including New Zealand, Austria, Kazakhstan, and South Africa joined the initiative. So far, China has inked a number of cooperative documents with 126 countries and 29 international organizations. 

Americans and Chinese people all believe that actions speak louder than words. But if one turns a blind eye to BRI countries' tangible benefits, especially those received by developing countries, then one will not be able to gain a fairer understanding of the BRI. America's decision to shy away from this year's forum is a missed opportunity.

As China's solution to promote sustainable and inclusive development, the BRI dovetails with the wisdom and philosophy of the Chinese people. Through the BRI, China hopes to contribute to building a world of great harmony, or "datong," a Confucian ideal that is deeply rooted in the spirit of the Chinese people.

As China's State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, "working together to shape the Belt and Road initiative fits the trend of peaceful development, and matches the needs of each country."

What makes things interesting is despite refusing to send officials to the forum, the U.S. called upon "all countries to ensure that their economic diplomacy initiatives adhere to internationally-accepted norms and standards, promote sustainable and inclusive development, and advance good governance and strong economic institutions." 

Well, China and other BRI countries are just practicing what the statement preaches. 

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