Benefits of BRI enjoyed across globe
14 Aug 2023


China offers public goods to partners with no strings attached, observers say


The recently built OOCL Piraeus, one of the largest container vessels in the world, received a water salute on July 10 as it arrived at the Port of Piraeus in Greece, a major hub among the economies involved in the 10-year-old Belt and Road Initiative.


The port, run by Chinese shipping giant COSCO Shipping, hosted a visit by President Xi Jinping in 2019 and is among the over 3,000 cooperative programs within the BRI framework.


Chinese Ambassador to Greece Xiao Junzheng said the European nation is a major portal for the rest of the world to access the continent, and "well-developed land-sea transportation architecture plays a key part" in tapping into the geographical advantages of the country.


"This year marks the 10th anniversary of President Xi proposing the Belt and Road Initiative, and China is ready to take this opportunity and step up exchanges and collaboration with Greece with regard to transportation and shipping, based on the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits," he said.


Over the past 10 years, the BRI has directly boosted the construction of a number of ports, freeways and other transportation infrastructure across the globe, spurred investment totaling nearly $1 trillion, and attracted over 150 countries and 30 international organizations to sign over 200 cooperative documents.


However, some political figures and media organizations have kept attacking the BRI, hyping the so-called "debt trap" or "security threats".


But many senior officials, scholars and media observers have stood up and spoken out as witnesses to the concrete benefits brought by BRI projects to partner countries and regions, saying that China's role in funding, constructing or managing these projects is not based on selfish interests and it attaches no strings to their domestic affairs.


Siddharth Chatterjee, UN development system resident coordinator in China, said, "The BRI is a vast endeavor that has altered the way nations communicate and collaborate, and it is a good reflection of China's leadership and commitment to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development."


"Through its scope and ambition, the BRI has sought to promote economic growth, regional integration and cultural interchange around the world during the last decade. This is something I've witnessed directly, having spent half of my UN career in Africa," he said at a recent symposium.


Chinese Ambassador to the United Kingdom Zheng Zeguang said, "None of the BRI partner countries has fallen into a debt crisis due to their participation in Belt and Road cooperation."


"China has fully implemented the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative, ranking first among all G20 members in terms of the deferral amount," Zheng said in a speech in June.


Wang Wen, executive dean of Renmin University of China's Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, said that BRI financial cooperation related to the port projects is part of China's efforts in providing international public goods, and Beijing has no intention of seeking financial hegemony like some Western developed countries.


"China does not pursue geopolitical advantages, and it does not interfere in the domestic affairs of partner countries, nor has it shifted a financial crisis to others or shaped an international financial order based on inequality," he said.


"In contrast, what China has offered to BRI partners are convenient financial services, innovative platforms for funding and investing, multipronged financial products, inclusive cooperative projects, winwin outcomes and lasting competence in risk management," he added.


Noticeable progress


Gwadar Port, a flagship project for the BRI and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, has achieved noticeable progress in its construction over the past decade.


The Pakistan Observer newspaper said in an editorial on Aug 5 that all projects under the umbrella of the BRI and CPEC are "contributing their share" to the socioeconomic development of Pakistan, and "it would have been a daunting task" for Pakistan to develop Gwadar Port without all-around Chinese cooperation and assistance.


The port now has three multipurpose berths capable of handling 50,000-ton vessels, and projects such as the East Bay Expressway and the Vocational and Technical Training Institution are already operational.


Yang Yundong, the Chinese consul-general in Karachi, noted that Gwadar New International Airport, a desalination plant and the China-Pakistan Friendship Hospital are successively scheduled for completion.


"This shining 'pearl' of the CPEC is accelerating its momentum toward becoming a strategic hubfor logistics and an industrial base," Yang wrote in an article published on Monday.


In the Caribbean country of Trinidad and Tobago, the Phoenix Park Industrial Estate — the first BRI flagship project in the region — has been completed and will soon be put into operation.


"With more and more ambitious investors coming from China and other countries, we believe that the PPIE will be a new engine for the economic prosperity of this beautiful country," Amery Browne, minister for foreign and CARICOM affairs of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, said at a celebration event on Tuesday.


Observers said that in the near future, the world will continue to have a great demand for infrastructure and the BRI will continue to help boost the infrastructure of countries involved in the initiative.


Wang Yiwei, a professor at the School of International Studies and director of the Institute of International Affairs at Renmin University of China, said the BRI "illustrates the vast possibilities for global cooperation in infrastructure facilities, and will exert profound influence in tackling the shortfall in global infrastructure and regional interconnectivity".


"The enormous achievements yielded by the BRI over the past decade reflect China's role as an opportunity, not a risk. The world needs better interconnectivity, not 'decoupling'," he added.


Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan, executive director of the Center for South Asia & International Studies in Islamabad, noted that the BRI has further increased trade between Southeast Asia and China, and Malaysia is looking forward to serving as a hub for greater exchanges in the region.


"Hopefully, BRI projects in Malaysia would help bridge the digital divide, boost productivity, support capacity building and foster economic development, thereby encouraging entrepreneurship and job creation," he wrote recently.


Source: China Daily