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Statement by Consul General Ma Zhanwu at Press Briefing on BRF

(From Chinese Consulate General in Kolkata)


(Kolkata, India 17 May 2017)

(Check Against Delivery)

Namaste! Good afternoon! Very happy to see you all again. As you know, the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation was held in Beijing, China from 14 to 15 May 2017. It was a significant conference for China, Asia and the world, and will be remembered as a major event in the 21st century. I would, therefore, like to give you a briefing on this forum, and provide you with more information about the Belt and Road Initiative. (BRI has its Chinese version as Yi Dai Yi Lu.)

I. At attendance were 30 heads of state or heads of government, including President Xi of China and presidents or prime ministers from Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, Poland, Viet Nam, Malaysia, Ethiopia, Argentina, Italy, Span, Greece, Pakistan, Sri Lanka. Leaders from over 70 international organizations were also president, including UN Secretary General, president of World Bank and managing director of IMF.

And over 1500 representatives from over 130 countries, including ministers or high-level officials from the U.S., UK, Germany, France, Japan, Canada, Korea, also participated in the forum.

A number of scholars from India took part in some of the discussions during the forum.

For the first day, there were opening ceremony, and high-level plenary session in the morning. In the afternoon, there were six thematic conferences (on policy, infrastructure, trade, financing, humanities exchanges, think-tank exchanges). In evening, a banquet and a gala performance. Second day, round-table summit all day.

II. President Xi Jinping made speeches at the opening ceremony and at the conclusion, which contained important messages:

1. BRI is a solution that came out of his thinking and observation that there are many positive developments and changes and adjustments as well as numerous possibilities that come with advances in science and technology on the one hand, and the serious economic and other problems and challenges on the other hand, especially the deficits in peace, growth and governance.

2. Development is the master key for settlement of all problems. Countries are interdependent, and cannot deal with the challenges or achieve good development without working with others or combining their respective policies and strategies with those of others.

3. Drawing upon the spirit of the ancient silk road, featuring peaceful cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning, mutual benefit and win-win, the BRI is a future-oriented solution aimed at creating a brighter future with joint efforts. The road will be one of peace, prosperity, openness, innovation and civilization (PPOIC).

We will create a new mode of win-win cooperation, and will NOT do the five things: intervene in other countries' internal affairs, export the social system and model of development, impose BRI on others, repeat the old practice of geopolitical maneuvering, form a distablizing small group.

4. BRI belongs to the whole world and is open to all countries, and it does not exclude or target any country.

5. Over the past 4 years, BRI has won extensive support and positive response from the international community, and over 100 countries and international organizations have supported and participated in it. Many tangible results have been achieved.

It has also been written into resolutions of UN General Assembly and UN Security Council.

6. The Forum as well as the Roundtable Summit was aimed at providing a platform for further deliberations on how to move forward.

7. The countries should identify the direction of cooperation, learning from a group of geese that fly together and high and far. (Walk alone if you want to be fast, but with partners if you want to go far.)

8. The five points of consensus at the summit briefly are:

A. press forward with international cooperation to build the Belt and Road, and work together to facilitate trade and investment and push forward globalization;

B. strive to achieve synergy by combining the development strategies and economic policies of the participating countries;

C. give priority to big projects of infrastructure and conduct more tangible collaboration so as to give more impetus to the economic growth and bring more benefit to the people;

D. Conduct more people-to-people exchanges;

E. BRI is an open and inclusive platform, all countries are equal participants, contributors and beneficiaries. Countries will conduct cooperation through opening-up and achieve win-win results through cooperation.

9. China will do its part to contribute to the BRI, such as sharing its experiences of growth with others, allocating more funds, setting up centers for exchanges, implementing certain projects.

10. The next BRF will be hosted by China in 2019.

III. The round-table summit issued a joint communique and a list of deliverables. The list contains altogether 76 major outcomes, which include over 270 more specific projects. The outcomes are in the forms of MOUs, agreements, action plans between Chinese government and relevant foreign governments and international organizations, or between companies and other institutions like think-tanks, and between NGOs as well.

China unilaterally committed to do a number of things, such as increasing the Silk Road Fund by 100 billion RMB Yuan, allowing for 300 billion RMB Yuan to be used as financing for businesses.

The foreign leaders have spoken highly of the forum and stated that BRI will contribute to peace, prosperity to the region and the world, and they have indicated their desire to participate more in the development of the Belt and Road. Many have signed more agreements with China on relevant areas and projects.

The opinions leaders in India and around the world paid huge attention to the event and many have made positive comments about the initiative. Some have also shown their lack of a full understanding of the BRI. And some may not have bothered to read the relevant documents.

IV. Important things to remember about BRI

1. BRI is a solution proposed by China, aimed at combining the development strategies of the different countries, and achievement of synergy by combining the respective advantages and strengths of the different countries, and advancing the mutual learning and understanding of different countries with different cultural backgrounds. (1 + 1 > 2). It will thus promote growth of all the countries involved and contribute to regional and global peace, stability and security.

2. One priority is to achieve greater connectivity for the continents of Eurasia and Africa and the adjacent seas and build a comprehensive network of connectivity. And the participating countries will form partnerships for connectivity.

3. The fundamental principle for BRI development include the three elements: Extensive consultations, joint construction, and shared benefit.

4. It is new model of win-win cooperation, and the five-way connectivity includes the following areas: policies (development strategies), Infrastructure (transport, energy, telecommunication), trade and investment, financing, and hearts (people-to-people links, think-tank exchanges)

5. It is not starting something new to override the existing regimes and institutions.

6. It is not out-dated geopolitical maneuvering, and not against any country.

7. It is chorus, not solo, with a variety of participants, including individuals, groups, institutions, governments and international or multilateral organizations.

8. It emphasizes inclusiveness, and Countries should respect the sovereignty, dignity, territorial integrity, social systems, modes of development, core interests and major concerns of one another.

9. It is not so-called another colonial enterprise. It will be based on principles of the market. Full play will be given to the market,while the government would play its role properly.

10. It is a century long initiative, and needs many years of efforts by all participating parties. For the Belt, the dots of central cities, economic zones and industrial parks, and economic corridors as well as the Eurasia Land Bridges will be given priority. And for the maritime road, safe, smooth and efficient sea passages will be developed on the basis of the major ports.

11. It will contribute to peace, development and prosperity of the countries and regions along the BR, usher in a new era for mankind and contribute to building a community of shared interests, shared responsibility and common destiny for the whole mankind.

V. The spirit of the ancient silk road is the shared historical and cultural heritage for the whole mankind. India played an important part in the exchanges and activities that made the ancient silk road what it was. And BRI is open to India's participation, as it is to any other country.

The BRI is based on China's need for further opening-up and further cooperation with other countries, and represent the aspirations of people in other countries for better life through further development.

China and India are neighbors, and each has its own advantages and strengths. Their shared interests far outweigh their differences and both have the need to expand their cooperation, and they should have mutually beneficial cooperation in the development of the BR.

President Xi mentioned India several times during his speeches and he also mentioned Panchsheel (the five principles of peaceful co-existence).

I would urge our Indian friends to spend some more time to read the original papers on the BRI,including the remarks by the Chinese leaders. I believe you will be able to learn something more by doing so.

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