Think tanks praise BRI achievements over past 10 years

A thematic forum focusing on think tank exchanges of the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation was held in Beijing on Wednesday, where guest speakers praised the achievements of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) over the past decade.

Hundreds of global leaders, government officials and think tank scholars from over 40 countries and regions gathered to discuss the past achievements and future potential of the BRI.

"Think tanks are an indispensable and important force in promoting the construction of the Belt and Road," said Li Shulei, the head of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, in his speech.

"They are also a bridge for the dissemination of ideas, interpretation of policies, and communication of public opinions," added Li.

It has been 10 years since the BRI was proposed in 2013. The cooperation has extended from the Eurasian continent to Africa and Latin America, and more than 150 countries and over 30 international organizations have signed Belt and Road cooperation documents.

Read more: Graphics: BRI international cooperation achieves fruitful outcomes in 10 years

Guest speakers at the forum said the BRI has helped many countries improve their economies.

Regina Ip, a member of the Hong Kong Executive Council and Legislative Council, said China has helped Belt and Road partner countries develop infrastructure and has made great progress in terms of its "hardware" – referring to physical projects.

"I think in the next stage, we need to focus more on our soft power, extending our influence," Ip told CGTN on the sidelines of the conference.

At the conference, an initiative aimed at promoting international think tank cooperation for the BRI was launched, showing China's eagerness for more international cooperation in academic fields.

Meanwhile, in response to skepticism about the BRI often seen within Western countries, scholars at the conference said it was important to focus on how the project is welcomed by the world at large.

"There are slightly over 200 countries in the world ... and 150 of them have joined the BRI, so that speaks for itself," said John Ross, former director of economic and business policy for the mayor of London, in an interview with CGTN.

Kishore Mahbubani, distinguished fellow at the Asia Research Institute of the National University of Singapore, told CGTN, "the BRI has achieved far greater success than anyone imagined in terms of the number of concrete projects ... like the railway between Jakarta and Bandung, the fast train in Laos, the project in Kenya, in Ethiopia. 

"So it's quite remarkable how many concrete projects have been achieved and it's far beyond expectations," Mahbubani said.

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