BEIJING – Beijing is hosting a high-level international cooperation forum, dubbed “One Belt, One Road,” which brings together dozens of heads of state and government, along with financial organizations and hundreds of business representatives and entrepreneurs.
“Spanning thousands of miles and years, the ancient silk routes embody the spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said at the opening of the forum. “The Silk Road spirit has become a great heritage of human civilization.”
Xi also undertook to build a “road of peace” as he emphasized the need to respect the sovereignty and national interests of each and every state. The Chinese president added that he also wants it to be a “road to prosperity,” focusing on cooperation and production that would aim to maintain a dynamic growth.
The initiative, Xi said, is based on transparency and efficient resource allocation, with “no intention of creating a small group detrimental to stability.”
Speaking after the host of the conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted that, unfortunately, “protectionism and unlawful restrictions” have become the new norm in the modern world.
“We cannot resolve modern challenges by using old approaches. We need new ideas. We need to abandon all stereotypes,” Putin urged.
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“We should set a role model for the global community of how we can work together, develop together, based on equality and respect for national sovereignty based on international law and the United Nations principles.”
Russia is ready to join the development of “new modern transport corridors,” Putin said, as well as to contribute to “large-scale energy infrastructure projects.” Putin also called for scientific cooperation and to “set up international laboratories” which can contribute to regional development.
“Civilization project for the future,” as Putin called the New Silk Road, should bring stability and prosperity along its way.
Taking the stage after Putin, Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan emphasized that a project of such scale will encourage greater intergovernmental cooperation and strengthen the “climate of solidarity” among all partners. The establishment of a new, coherent political and economic system will “pave the way for a new era,” said the Turkish leader whose country was an important point of convergence during the times of the ancient Silk Road.
Rounding-off the opening ceremony as the final speaker, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, said the Silk Road project has “immense potential… far-reaching in geography and ambition.”
The Belt and Road Initiative was first proposed by China in 2013. It envisions two components: the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road that are expected to cover more than 60 percent of the world’s population and more than one-third of the global economic output.
The Chinese proposal envisages the creation of six economic corridors: Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar, China-Mongolia-Russia, China-Central Asia-West Asia, China-Indochina Peninsula, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and Eurasian Land Bridge.
The list of the 28 confirmed heads of state and government attending the forum also include Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Turkish President Recep Erdogan and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.
But not all countries are roused by the China-led project. Washington, for instance, is sending a low-level delegation led by White House adviser Matt Pottinger, while France, Germany, and Britain are to be represented by finance officials.
Politicians aside, the forum will hear from over 80 leaders of international organizations, including, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde, and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. Some 1,500 business representatives and journalists are expected to attend.