China BRI trade with 140 countries tops $9.2 trillion
China’s Belt and Road Initiative is “a public road open to all” and is not “ideologically biased” according to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, addressing a conference on future plans for the programme.
Wang was speaking at the Asia and Pacific High Level Video Conference on Belt and Road, which took place on June 23.
He gave an update on China’s Belt and Road Initiative and called on nations to join and support the use of the BRI as a superhighway for vaccine roll-outs, sustainable development and building digital connectivity.
According to a statement by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, political leaders from 29 countries, including Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez, were present via video-link.
The conference was organised to “enhance anti-pandemic cooperation and boost economic recovery”.
140 partner countries
Wang said that from its inception in 2013, the “important initiative” has shown strong vigour and vitality.
“Over the past eight years, the BRI has evolved from a concept and vision into real actions and reality, and brought about enormous opportunities and benefits to countries around the world. To date, up to 140 partner countries have signed documents on Belt and Road cooperation with China. Trade between China and BRI partners has exceeded $9.2 trillion. Direct investment by Chinese companies in countries along the Belt and Road has surpassed $130 billion. The BRI has truly become the world’s broadest-based and largest platform for international cooperation.”
Wang Yi added that even through the COVID-19 outbreak , Belt and Road cooperation did not come to a halt. “It braved the headwinds and continued to move forward, showing remarkable resilience and vitality. Together, we have put up an international firewall of cooperation against COVID-19, provided a stabiliser for the world economy, and built new bridges for global connectivity.”
This “fruitful” Belt and Road cooperation was as a result of the solidarity and cooperation among BRI partners, guided by the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, he said, adding that BRI practices the concept of open, green and clean development, aimed at high-standard, people-centred and sustainable growth.
“All cooperation partners, regardless of economic size, are equal members of the BRI family. None of our cooperation programs are attached with political strings. We never impose our will on others from a so-called position of strength. Neither do we pose a threat to any country.
“We are always committed to mutual benefit and win-win. The BRI came from China, but it creates opportunities and good results for all countries, and benefits the whole world. We have strengthened policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity to pursue economic integration, achieve interconnected development, and deliver benefits to all.
“The BRI is a public road open to all, and has no backyard or high walls. It is open to all kinds of systems and civilisations and is not ideologically biased.”
Looking beyond hard infrastructure
Wang spoke about the launch of the silk road of health and a green silk road to achieve low-carbon transition, as well as the building of a digital silk road, to address development gaps.
“We are working to build the BRI into a pathway to poverty alleviation. Belt and Road cooperation began in the economic sector, but it does not end there. It is becoming a new platform for better global governance.”
The Chinese Foreign Minister then laid out four key pillars:
• Deeper international cooperation on vaccines
• Stronger connectivity
• Green development
• Advancing free trade and forging ahead with regional partnership programmes.
“China will provide more vaccines and other urgently-needed medical supplies to BRI partners and other countries to the best of its ability, and support waiving intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines, all in an effort to help all countries defeat COVID-19.
“We will continue to synergise infrastructure development plans, and work together on transport infrastructure, economic corridors, and economic and trade and industrial cooperation zones. We will accelerate the building of the digital Silk Road, and make smart connectivity a new reality in the future.
“China is ready to step up cooperation in such areas as green infrastructure, green energy and green finance, and develop more environment-friendly projects with a high standard and high quality.
“Fourth, we need to continue to advance free trade in our region and the world. China will work for the early entry-into-force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and faster regional economic integration. China will work with all sides to keep global industrial and supply chains open, secure and stable.”
Asia Pacific’s potential
Wang Yi said that the Asia-Pacific is the fastest-growing region with the greatest potential and most dynamic cooperation in the world, and is playing an increasingly important role in the global fight against COVID-19 and economic recovery.
“The Asia-Pacific region should be a pace-setter of development and cooperation, not a chessboard for geopolitics. Asian and Pacific countries are the pioneers, contributors and examples of Belt and Road international cooperation,” he told delegates.
The Conference formally adopted the Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on COVID-19 Vaccines Cooperation and the Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on Green Development.
“The world is not safe until every country has eliminated the pandemic. Vaccines should be fairly distributed as a global public good, and be made more accessible and affordable in developing countries.”