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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Opinion
Economic corridors crucial for Belt & Road
    2017-June-12  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

Winton Dong

dht0620@126.com

ON May 23 this year, while addressing the 52nd annual conference of the African Development Bank which was held in India, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his country would develop the Asia Africa Growth Corridor program with the joint efforts of the United States and Japan.

Such a move is commonly regarded by foreign media outlets as a countermeasure India has taken to curb the globally expanding influence of the Belt & Road Initiative proposed by China in 2013. It also shows that, the construction of economic corridors and other infrastructural projects featuring land-sea-air transportation routes among different countries and even different continents, is very important in modern society.

To push forward the Belt and Road Initiative, China is now building six economic corridors, namely the New Euroasian Continental Bridge, the China-Mongolia-Russia Corridor, the China-Central Asia-West Asia Corridor, the China-Indochina Peninsula Corridor, the China-Pakistan Corridor and the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Corridor.

These corridors, connecting most of the countries and regions along the Belt and Road, are of special significance to the success of the initiative. Economic corridors will not only shorten trade distances and facilitate international business, but also quicken economic integration and globalization. With the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as an example, Chinese investment only ranked 16th in Pakistan before the construction of the corridor, but now China has become the largest investor in the country after the construction of the corridor.

The Belt and Road Initiative was proposed by China, but is surely not a solo performance of China. It shares the spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning, and mutual benefit. It does not shut out, nor is it directed against any party. Since the Belt and Road Initiative is an open and inclusive framework, while building economic corridors along the initiative, it is very important for the Chinese Government to coordinate different government policies and strike a wonderful balance among all countries concerned.

Frankly speaking, many countries involved in the economic corridors are China’s neighbors and some even have territorial disputes with China. The recent transfer of Lotte’s land to the South Korean Government for the deployment of THAAD system within its territory demonstrated that when economic benefits meet political demands, political interest and national security will finally ascend. For example, as our important neighbor, India did not take part in the Belt and Road Forum held this May in Beijing. According to insiders, India 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.

Meanwhile, some countries have already had existing economic corridors or their own plans to build corridors. Russia has sponsored its Eurasian Economic Union, an economic treaty signed by Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. The EU has its Juncker Plan. India promotes the Monsoon Road and Perfume Plan. Mongolia boasts the Road of Grassland and Kazakhstan the Bright Road. All the while, Britain markets its own North Development Plan... just to name a few of them. Under these circumstances, linking China’s development proposal with these platforms is also a touchstone to test the political wisdom of state leaders. It is great to see that during his state visit to Kazakhstan between Wednesday and Saturday, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev witnessed the signing of agreements amid the two countries’ efforts to connect China’s Belt and Road with Kazakhstan’s Bright Road new economic policies.

Undeveloped and unbalanced infrastructure poses a bottleneck for economic development along the corridors. To raise more money for infrastructural improvement, China began to promote public-private partnership (PPP) in countries and regions along the Belt and Road routes at the beginning of 2017. This move will not only broaden financing channels for companies, but also minimize the risks caused by unfamiliar political, investment, security and legal environments.

Due to the relatively high risk and long return periods, private investors might not be very interested in long-term infrastructure projects along the economic corridors in the initial stages of development. So there is a huge funding gap to be filled by the government. That may be the reason why two Chinese banks, namely the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China, have been recently designated to set up special lending plans respectively worth 250 billion yuan (US$36.4 billion) and 130 billion yuan, to facilitate cooperative projects along the Belt and Road Initiative.

(The author is the editor-in-chief of the Shenzhen Daily with a Ph.D. from the Journalism and Communication School of Wuhan University.)

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