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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Opinion
Fasten belt and take to the road
    2017-May-15  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    Winton Dong

    dht620@sina.com

    IF the Belt and Road Initiative is compared to a bandwagon that boasts gigantic business potential for the whole world, all countries who have jumped on it should now fasten their belts because the carriage is going to take to the road and start picking up speed.

    Invited by the Chinese Government, heads of state and government leaders from 29 countries (including Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Indonesia, Pakistan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Turkey, Italy, Spain, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Argentina and Peru), leaders from more than 70 international organizations (including U.N. secretary general, president of the World Bank and president of the International Monetary Fund), and more than 1,500 officials and scholars from over 130 countries are now gathering in Beijing to take part in the two-day Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, which opened yesterday in the Chinese capital.

    According to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, the forum comes amid a sluggish world economy and aims to push forward the establishment of a fairer, more reasonable and balanced global governance system under the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. With such a goal in mind, various Chinese departments are expected to sign more than 50 cooperative agreements at the forum with their counterparts along the initiative’s routes, covering infrastructure, science, culture, health, energy, tourism, people-to-people exchanges, trade and investment.

    In his opening speech, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that China will provide assistance worth 60 billion yuan (US$8.7 billion) to developing countries and international organizations participating in the Belt and Road Initiative to launch more projects to improve people’s well-being. China will also contribute an additional 100 billion yuan to the Silk Road Fund, and two Chinese banks will set up special lending schemes worth a total of 380 billion yuan to support Belt and Road cooperation.

    As a Chinese saying goes, strong winds always want to destroy tall trees in the forest. Although presenting many growth points for the globe to prosper together, the initiative also faces huge challenges from many directions. Therefore, we should relinquish rosy optimism and thoroughly analyze all kinds of difficulties and obstacles that may arise during the course of its development in the future.

    Some Western media outlets have recently reported that the United States, South Korea and India would not attend the forum. However, in a U-turn, the United States announced Friday that it would send a delegation led by Matt Pottinger, special assistant to U.S. President Donald Trump and senior director for Asia at the U.S. National Security Council, to the forum.

    South Korea’s former deputy speaker of the National Assembly, Park Byeong-suk, would also attend the event, the Chinese Foreign Ministry revealed Friday. The absence of an incumbent South Korean official is surely an outcome influenced by the deployment of the U.S. THAAD system in its territory, escalating tension in the Korean Peninsula, its homeland political instability and presidential election.

    As for neighboring India, it may have some scruples over the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The corridor is said to go across Kashmir, a disputed area between India and Pakistan. Actually, the Belt and Road Initiative is an economic and business cooperation framework and has nothing to do with politics and national boundaries.

    

    In my opinion, since the forum is a burgeoning trade platform and mainly targets countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, if most countries along the routes can accept and join the forum, it is still a great success even without the attendance of some countries. According to statistics, the initiative has won support from over 100 countries and international organizations and more than 40 of them have signed cooperative agreements with China.

    However, since the Belt and Road Initiative is an open system trying to encompass as many nations as possible, it is very important for China to carefully consider political and religious complexities involved in a vast geographical area and the gigantic disparities existing in various economies, thus striking a wonderful balance among different countries and economic entities.

    The Belt and Road Initiative, put forward by President Xi in 2013, is the most important public policy initiative China has offered to the world. Its main purposes are to revive the ancient land and sea trade routes and boost interconnection between Asia and the rest of the world. Nations along the routes, no matter rich or poor, big or small, will share opportunities, meet challenges and prosper together.

    Guided by these principles, China has made substantial progress in recent years. The country’s trade volume with nations along the routes under the initiative reached US$974.8 billion in 2016, accounting for 25.7 percent of its total foreign trade in goods. Moreover, China also set aside more than 10,000 scholarships and assistantships to promising and needy students from various countries along the routes from 2013 to 2016.

    China’s trade with economies along the routes maintained rapid momentum in the first quarter of 2017, with a growth rate of 26.2 percent compared with the same period of last year. Those economies also set up 781 new companies in China during the same period.

    Unexpected legal and cultural differences are still important factors that obstruct cross-border investment along the routes however. While seeking business opportunities, risks in host countries, such as changing local policies, fluctuations in foreign exchange rates, political instability, and various cultural and religious beliefs, should also be carefully considered.

    (The author is the editor-in-chief of the Shenzhen Daily.)

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