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B&R Key Word (1): An Outline (Part I)

Editor: Qian Ding 丨CCTV.com

04-26-2017 16:00 BJT

Editor's Note: Keywords to Understand China: the Belt and Road Initiative is a selection of "China Keywords" entries included in an eponymous multilingual platform to help readers better understand China's B&R Initiative. It is one of the major projects implemented by the China International Publishing Group and the China Academy of Translation.

The Belt and Road Initiative

The Belt and Road Initiative – China's proposal to build a Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road in cooperation with related countries – was unveiled by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visits to Central and Southeast Asia in September and October 2013.

The initiative focuses on promoting policy coordination, connectivity of infrastructure and facilities, unimpeded trade, financial integration, and strengthened people-to-people ties through a consultative process and joint efforts, with the goal of bringing benefits to all. 

The initiative covers primarily East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, West Asia, Central Asia, and Central and Eastern Europe. It reflects a convergence of interests and an increasing need for regional and global cooperation.

The response from countries along the proposed Belt and Road has been enthusiastic. By the end of 2016 over 100 countries and international and regional organizations had expressed an interest in participating, and more than 40 of them had signed cooperation agreements with China. 

Silk Road Economic Belt

The Silk Road first emerged more than 2,100 years ago during the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24) after China's imperial envoy Zhang Qian twice visited Central Asia. It became a bridge between East and West, opening the door to friendly engagement between China and Central Asia. For two millennia, countless tales of everlasting friendship between peoples have been woven into this ancient network.

In a speech at Kazakhstan’s Nazarbayev University on September 7, 2013, President Xi Jinping proposed building a new Silk Road Economic Belt to expand Eurasian economic cooperation. An innovative cooperative approach was outlined, starting with individual projects that are expected to help spur larger-scale regional cooperative development.

The proposed economic belt is considered the longest economic corridor in the world – and potentially the most dynamic – connecting the Asia-Pacific region in the East with developed European economies in the West.

21st Century Maritime Silk Road

Formed during the Qin and Han Dynasties (221 BC-AD 220), the Maritime Silk Road has always played an important role in economic and cultural exchanges between East and West. And Southeast Asia has always been a nexus of this interaction.

On the occasion of the 10th Anniversary of the China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership, President Xi Jinping proposed jointly building a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road in his speech to the Indonesian parliament on October 3, 2013. The initiative aims to boost China-ASEAN maritime cooperation and forge closer ties in a community with a shared future. It calls for joint efforts across the region and beyond.

Starting with the launch of individual projects that are expected to help spur a wider range of cooperative activities, it envisions a network of interconnected markets linking the ASEAN, South Asia, West Asia, North Africa, and Europe, and a strategic partnership for the South China Sea and the Pacific and Indian oceans.    

Spirit of the Silk Road

More than just a trade route, the Silk Road has been a platform for people-to-people and cultural exchanges, where ethnic, racial, religious and cultural convergence takes place.

Throughout the millennia, interaction along this route has shaped the Silk Road spirit, which is embodied in solidarity and mutual trust, equality and mutual benefit, inclusiveness, a disposition to learn from each other, and cooperation in finding win-win solutions.

Underpinning the Silk Road spirit is the understanding that countries with different dominant ethnic groups and different religious and cultural traditions can work together to achieve peace and shared prosperity. Such an understanding also informs one of the fundamental principles for international interaction today. 

Silk Road Fund

The Silk Road Fund was established in Beijing on December 29, 2014, following President Xi Jinping's announcement on November 8 that China would contribute US$40 billion for this purpose.

The Fund will support infrastructure and resource development and industrial cooperation in the countries along the land and sea Silk Roads. It will complement rather than serve as a substitute for other global and regional multilateral development banks, and will operate under the existing international economic and financial order.

Instead of simply dispensing economic aid, the Fund will exploit increased connectivity to create major development opportunities for all. It is an open scheme and welcomes the participation of investors from Asia and beyond.

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

The idea of creating a new multilateral bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), was first evinced by President Xi Jinping of China in October 2013. After more than 800 days of combined preparatory efforts by 57 countries, the AIIB was formally established, in accordance with China's proposal, on December 25, 2015 in Beijing. The bank held its opening ceremony on January 16, 2016, and President Xi Jinping made a speech at the ceremony.

The AIIB is a regional inter-governmental development institution focused on supporting infrastructure development. It is the first multinational financial institution sponsored by China. By the end of March 2017, it has a total of 70 members, next to that of the World Bank, including five G7 members, 15 G20 members, and four UN Security Council permanent members.

Among other sectors, the bank will initially invest in energy and electricity, transport, telecommunications, rural and agricultural infrastructure, water supply and sewerage, environmental protection, urban development, and logistics. The first batch of loans was approved in June 2016.

(The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com)

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