BEIJING, (Xinhua) — The highest-level forum on the Belt and Road opened Sunday in Beijing, an important boost to the grand plan for interconnected development and sustainable growth.
Before heads of state and government from 29 foreign countries and delegates from more than 130 countries, Chinese President Xi Jinping, who proposed the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013, outlined principles and measures for advancing the open and inclusive plan in a keynote speech at the opening of the two-day event. Special envoys and delegates from many developed countries, such as France, Germany and the United States, attended the meeting. Greater consensus is being built among countries with different political systems and cultures to push the initiative. Russian President Vladimir Putin said the Belt and Road Initiative is “promising” and his country has supported the initiative.
Given the challenges like protectionism and development gaps, it is necessary to find new development engines to promote justice and equality, he said. The coordination of the Belt and Road Initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union strategy will boost the Eurasian development, said Putin. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the Belt and Road is an important initiative which connects Asia and Europe and other continents. The mechanism will promote sustainable development and improve the lives of people and bring mutual benefits to all countries, he said, confident of its success at the forum. “The speech is very very impressive and presents a very clear roadmap for the future,” said Zafaruddin Mahmood, a delegate from Pakistan.
Xi pledged more financial support for the Belt and Road construction, including an additional 100 billion yuan (about 14.5 billion U.S. dollars) to the Silk Road Fund, and assistance worth 60 billion yuan in the coming three years to developing countries and international organizations participating in the initiative. Hailing the solid progress of the initiative in the past four years, Xi proposed five guiding principles for the pursuit of the Belt and Road initiative: building the Belt and Road into a road of peace, prosperity, opening up, innovation and connecting different civilizations. He outlined priorities such as infrastructure and industrial cooperation. “Xi’s speech is encouraging and points out the priorities of the plan. The forum undoubtedly is a landmark event for economic and trade cooperation,” said Mirzohid Rahimov, a delegate from Uzbekistan.
In a complicated international political and economic environment, the Belt and Road Initiative has met the need for win-win development and the common interests of most countries, he said. The five fields of connectivity — policy, infrastructure, trade, finance and people — are important for all countries, he added. China will play a very important role in multilateralism with the Belt and Road Initiative, basically a global development vision, said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, mentioning the Chinese proverb “If you want to get rich, first build a road.” The initiative reflects a new model of international cooperation and interaction with mutually beneficial cooperation through the connection of policies and development strategies. “President Xi was talking about the future. He analyzed the challenges, but said more about solutions,” Umberto de Pretto, secretary-general of the International Road Transport Union.
The Belt and Road Initiative is a vision of the future of the whole planet, not just China or Eurasia, he said. “Since the launch of this initiative, we have seen increasing support from governments, businesses and other stakeholders within and beyond the Belt and Road region,” said Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum.He regards the Belt and Road Initiative as a shining model for regional collaboration, development and growth.This initiative respects the differences between countries and their various paths for development, not imposing a specific plan or ideological framework, but seeking to create common ground for cooperation and mutual benefit, he said.”Xi’s commitment is taken very seriously and it shows that China is engaging the world like never before and I think that is the overarching vision that he gave,” said Robert Lawrence Kuhn, an international corporate strategist. “China is not seeking hegemony, China is seeking its rightful role,” said Kuhn. Li Xiangyang, a researcher with Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the forum will gather consensus and dismiss doubts. “The Belt and Road is an unprecedented project of vast magnitude. It is important for us to explore ways to solve problems,” he said. “The initiative is far beyond the economic strategy of any single country or region, its mission is to make the world more innovative, dynamic, and equal,” Alibaba founder Jack Ma said. “The Belt and Road is a great vision with a bright future,” he said.