Belt and Road construction to focus on high-quality cooperation
Updated 21:17, 26-Apr-2019
Editor's Note: The following is an edited translation of the commentary from the Chinese-language "Commentaries on International Affairs" published on China Plus on April 25, 2019.
The second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) that is being held in Beijing this week attracted nearly 5,000 participants from over 150 countries and 90 international organizations. This year's event far exceeds the scale of the first forum in 2017, at which 1,200 or so attendees from around 110 countries and 61 international organizations came to Beijing.
The substantial expansion of interest in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is the result of the active promotion of the initiative by government departments and civil societies and the growing recognition in the international community of the value of the BRI principles of generating shared growth through collaboration.
The BRI's benefits are plain to see. Researchers with the U.S. College of William & Mary compared satellite images of areas surrounding several BRI projects and found that nighttime illumination not only increased in the immediate vicinity of the projects – the increase also spread outward across the provinces and districts where the projects are located. 
The researchers suggested that this was the result of the connective infrastructure at the heart of BRI projects, producing economic value in large parts of the participating countries.
The inclusiveness of the initiative as a platform for multilateral cooperation has stimulated the desire for participation. The number of BRI partners and projects has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, and China has continued to push for high-quality cooperation.
A BRF-themed flower terrace in Beijing, April 14, 2019. /Photo: IC

A BRF-themed flower terrace in Beijing, April 14, 2019. /Photo: IC

In fact, the embrace of internationally-accepted standards for its projects is becoming a major deciding factor for countries considering joining the BRI. While promoting the initiative, China is also promoting increasingly environmentally-sustainable, free of corruption, and efficient practices. A research report released by Chatham House last year noted that the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, an important financier for BRI projects, is seeking ways to develop a policy framework that will enable it to deliver on its objective to be "lean, clean, and green." 
And working paper produced by World Bank researchers at Duke University earlier this year said that "a potentially encouraging trend is that a few large Chinese companies are beginning to voluntarily adopt more stringent environmental standards developed by NGOs and industry associations." These research findings point to China helping its partners to transform their economic development models by adopting high international standards.
Although some developed countries haven't signed agreements with China on BRI cooperation, they've been involved in the initiative in practical ways, such as by providing consultancy, legal, and financial services, and even taking part in some of the construction work. Cooperation of this kind is helping enhance the standards of the BRI projects.
As the BRI's influence increases, some regional bodies, including the African Union and the European Union, are focusing more on aligning their own development plans with the initiative. This will benefit the construction of the BRI, which can create a virtuous cycle where one benefits the other. To make the most of these opportunities, standardized implementation mechanisms containing detailed down-to-earth practice plans will need to be agreed and put in place.
As President Xi Jinping has said many times, the Belt and Road Initiative might have originated in China but it belongs to the world. This can be seen in the growing number of heads of state, scholars, and industry leaders who have gathered in Beijing for the second BRF.
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