Global appeal of China's Belt & Road Initiative
Dialogue with Yang Rui
Recently, the World Economic Forum's Global Future Council on Europe published an article, saying China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a win-win approach under a global outlook.
Also, according to other conclusions reached by various experts from international think tanks, China's BRI holds an immense international influence and has brought significant changes along the way.
The initiative, proposed by China in 2013, refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which aims at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa.
Dr. Zhao Hai from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, stated that "win-win approach" is the fundamental approach of the BRI, China now tries to connect with the world not only through infrastructure, but also through policy and people-to-people exchanges. And within BRI countries, Europe is catching up, he added.
Zhao also pointed out that "today the world's economic center is in the Pacific, not in the Atlantic, and the BRI is a reflection of that."
Clare Pearson, former chair of the British Chamber of Commerce in China told CGTN Dialogue that she's "a big fan of the BRI."
As a British opinion leader, she sees the BRI as more of a "wake-up call" to the rest of the world, "maybe it's a different way of doing development," she said.
"Ultimately it will benefit both rich and poor countries. In the last thirty years, it (China) lifted five hundred million people out of poverty, BRI's going to export this innovative know-how in development expertise to countries that stand to benefit from increased opportunities and realization of human potential through infrastructural initiatives," she added.
Pearson thinks that "the BRI is not a competition, but complementary, or a platform."
However, there are also critical voices. Theresa Fallon, director of the Center for Russia Europe Asia Studies, spoke on the issue of BRI countries falling into the so-called Chinese debt-trap.
Greg Earl, Economic Diplomacy Columnist at the Lowy Institute based in Sydney, Australia, mentioned a survey about how opinion leaders in South Asia look at the BRI, "65 percent of them said the BRI was a very good thing and would deliver very valuable infrastructure to Southeast Asia, but 17 percent said they would concern their country may wind up with excessive debt as a result of the BRI." According to Earl, Southeast Asia is a crucial part of the BRI system.
About skeptical voices on BRI countries falling into a debt-trap, he believed the reason is that the BRI, somehow, became a part of election campaigns in these countries, and he suggested that China needs to manage that delicately in the future.
Zhao also believed the "debt-trap accusation" is being politicized. "In the beginning, a new government likes to get rid of the original contract, but later when they realize the benefits of those contracts, they try to change the terms. And after renegotiation and some kind of compromise, they will continue with the contract. Ultimately, proving themselves wrong in accusing corruption or other issues. There might be issues, but fundamentally they will realize the infrastructure and other projects under the BRI are good for their economy and their country."
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