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Ambassador Lu Shaye publishes a signed article on the Belt and Road Initiative

(From Chinese Embassy in Canada)

2018/05/03

On May 2, The Hill Times published an article written by Chinese Ambassador in Canada Lu Shaye, illustrating the contents, purposes and achievements of the Belt and Road Initiative and welcoming Canada to play an active role in it. Here is the full text:

In the five years since China proposed the Belt and Road initiative, it has been transformed from concept to action, and from vision to reality, yielding fruitful outcomes and bringing substantial benefits to many countries.

However, the initiative is also misunderstood. Some people say it is a tool China employs for geographical and strategic expansion, and others say that it increases the debt burden of some countries. What is the truth? Here are my thoughts:

First, what is the Belt and Road initiative? It is the abbreviation for the "Silk Road Economic Belt" and the "21st Century Maritime Silk Road." The core content of the initiative is to strengthen complementarity of the national policies and development strategies between China and relevant countries, deepen their practical cooperation, promote coordinated and interconnected development, and achieve common prosperity. The priorities of cooperation are policy communication, infrastructure connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration, and people-to-people bonds.

The initiative covers the countries and regions along the routes of the old Silk Road and the Maritime Silk Road, but it is far beyond a "belt" or a "road" in terms of geography. It focuses on the Asian, European, and African continents, but is also open to other countries across the globe. It is an international public good provided by China to promote the development of the global economy in a new era.

Since it began, more than 100 countries and international organizations have supported and participated in the Belt and Road construction actively, scoring remarkable early achievements. A number of major infrastructure projects, including railways, ports, and pipe networks, are under construction.

Second, why did China propose the initiative? History is the best teacher. The ancient silk routes opened the window for friendly exchanges among countries involved, making tremendous contributions to human progress and development. This left us with a spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, and mutual learning and mutual benefit, which is the precious legacy of human civilization.

In this era, the international community is confronted with challenges such as an insufficient drive for growth in the global economy, a disparity of regional development, increasing regional hotspot issues, and raging terrorism. Therefore, the world needs a new platform to pool the strength of all countries to seek common development and safeguard world peace. It is against this backdrop that China's President Xi Jinping, by learning from the spirit of ancient silk routes, started the Belt and Road initiative in 2013.

Third, how is construction carried out? Instead of being created out of nothing, the Belt and Road initiative is based on existing development strategies of all countries involved. It promotes common development through policy coordination and taking advantage of complementarities among relevant countries.

It also sticks to the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution, and shared benefits, which is to say that the players involved consult together, work together, and enjoy the benefits together.

As for specific cooperation, Belt and Road adheres to a government-led, enterprise-operated, and market-based pattern. All projects have been examined by a feasibility study and market-based argumentation to ensure due economic and social benefits. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which consists of 84 members and provides important financing support for Belt and Road construction, is an international financial institution with international environment, social, and energy standards. It is impossible that borrowing countries are overburdened with debt and manipulated by China.

Fourth, what role does China play in Belt and Road construction? To put it simply, China is not only the initiator, but also an equal collaborator in the project. China will neither capitalize on the initiative to conduct the expansion of geographical strategies, nor think about taking full charge of the cooperation. Instead, China always provides assistance for related cooperation within its capacity, and encourages corresponding support from other sides.

China invested in and set up the Silk Road Fund in 2014. By the end of 2017, 17 projects in different countries had been signed with the promise of investing US$7-billion. At present, the AIIB has approved more than 20 investment projects with a total amount of more than US$4-billion. As of today, China has signed cooperation agreements on Belt and Road construction with 86 countries and organizations, and established 75 overseas economic and trade cooperation zones in more than 20 countries, creating large amounts of tax revenue and jobs for relevant countries.

As an important country in the Asia-Pacific region, Canada boasts its own advantages in such aspects as transportation, communication, clean energy, financial services, and personnel training. Canada has joined the AIIB, thus it could enjoy benefits by participating in Belt and Road construction. China welcomes Canada to play an active role in it.

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