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Wang Yi: "Belt and Road" Construction Has Achieved a Series of Important Early Harvest

2016/05/21

On May 21, 2016, Foreign Minister Wang Yi gave an interview to Chinese and Kazakh media in Alma-Ata, and said that with a sound and smooth start, the “Belt and Road” construction has achieved a series of important early harvest in the past two-odd years.

Wang Yi said that the Silk Road Economic Belt initiative was put forward by President Xi Jinping right in Kazakhstan, who afterward proposed in Southeast Asia to build the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. The proposition of the “Belt and Road” initiative not only meets the common aspirations of Asian and European people for development and cooperation, conforms to the global trend of development and progress, but also is a major move of China in carrying out all-round opening up under new historical conditions and the most important public product that China provides to the Eurasian continent. The important early harvest of the “Belt and Road” construction is summarized as follows:

First, international consensus has increased gradually. More than 70 countries and organizations have expressed their support and participation, exceeding the scope of the traditional “Belt and Road” and truly forming an international cooperation framework with broad influence. Meanwhile, 34 countries and international organizations have signed inter-governmental cooperation agreements with China on jointly building the “Belt and Road”. And based on these inter-government cooperation agreements, detailed cooperation programs will be further formulated. Last month, on behalf of the Foreign Ministry, I signed the Letter of Intent with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, which has an important symbolic significance.

Second, the financial support mechanism starts to play its role. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has begun operation since early this year, and the first group of projects financed by the Silk Road Fund have been officially launched. Countries along the route are actively discussing to establish or expand bilateral and multilateral cooperative fund in various forms and financial cooperation is being carried out at a rapid speed, providing strong support for the construction of key projects.

Third, a connectivity network is gradually taking shape. As a basic project in building the “Belt and Road”, connectivity links the land, sea, air and network in the Eurasian continent together so as to create better conditions for cooperation. Currently, construction has begun on the Belgrade-Budapest Railway and the Jakarta-Bandung High-speed Railway. The China-Laos Railway, China-Thailand Railway, and other pan-Asia railway networks have started construction. Also, progress has been made in the construction of a number of expressways. Meanwhile, maritime connectivity is set to go. The inaugural “Belt and Road” Summit held in Hong Kong a few days ago is a complete success and has gained warm responses.

Fourth, production capacity cooperation is accelerating. China has signed agreements with 20 countries to implement institutional cooperation in production capacity. A lot of key projects are striking roots in these countries. Until now, the amount of various bilateral cooperation funds in production capacity established by China has exceeded 100 billion dollars. China and Kazakhstan are pioneers of international production capacity cooperation. At present, 52 early harvest projects, with a total investment of 27 billion dollars, have been implemented. Especially, China and Kazakhstan have initiated an international production capacity cooperation mode, performing an important demonstration effect.

Fifth, the construction of economic corridors has achieved great progress. Having reached consensus on the construction of an economic corridor, China, Mongolia and Russia are speeding up in formulating plans. With an early start and rapid development, China-Pakistan economic corridor has substantially initiated a batch of key projects. Construction of the New Eurasian Land Bridge economic corridor and Bangladesh–China–India–Myanmar economic corridor is also pushing forward steadily.

Sixth, the brand of China-Europe freight trains has formed. So far, more than 1,500 China-Europe freight trains have been successfully launched. In 2015 alone, 815 China-Europe freight trains started operation, 2.7 times the number of that in 2014. The freight trains go through 10 cities in China, and reach 7 countries along the route. The normalized transportation mechanism has taken shape, which plays an increasingly important role in driving up the economic development and trade exchanges of countries along the route.

Seventh, trade and investment have increased significantly. Most of the countries along the “Belt and Road” are at the critical phase for industrialization and urbanization. Since the implementation of the “Belt and Road” initiative, regional trade and investment have enjoyed rapid growth with an annual growth rate nearly twice as much as that of the world average. In 2015, Chinese enterprises directly invested 15 billion dollars in 49 countries involved in the “Belt and Road” initiative. All countries along the route are striving to promote the level of trade and investment facilitation, and explore various types of free trade zones and the integration process.

Eighth, people-to-people and cultural exchanges are further intensified. China has set up government scholarships to nations along the Silk Road, held culture years and art festivals in turn with countries along the route, and carried out the “Silk Road Film Bridge Project” and the “Silk Road Book Translation Project”, making positive achievements in people-to-people and cultural cooperation in the "Belt and Road" initiative. The combined world heritage application of the Silk Road was successfully completed, and we have launched the work of jointly heritage application of the Maritime Silk Road.

Wang Yi stressed that at the next stage, China will continue to observe the principle of wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefit, and further integrate China’s development with the development of countries along the route, so as to bring more benefits to people of all countries from the construction of the “Belt and Road”.

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