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Belt and Road: Shape a Brighter Shared Future

26 Apr 2019, 16:46 ( 2 Months ago)

By Chen Li
Ambassador of People Republic of China to Finland Chen Li. Photo Source: Chinese Embassy.

The Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) is being held from April 25 to 27 in Beijing. President Xi Jinping attended the opening ceremony and delivered a keynote speech. He also chaired the whole leaders' roundtable. The theme of the Forum is "Belt and Road Cooperation, Shaping a Brighter Shared Future". The mainline is to promote the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) for high-quality development. Heads of state and government from 37 countries attended the Forum.

Two years ago, the first BRF was successfully held. Compared to the first one, the second BRF has more representatives from more countries and more sub-forums. The entrepreneur conference is held for the first time. These showcase that BRI has become an international cooperative platform with extensive participation and an international popular public product in the world today, featuring high-quality development. So far, a total of 124 countries and 29 international organizations have signed BRI cooperation documents with China, casting a vote of confidence on the BRI with action.

In the past two years, in the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, all parties strongly boosted the cooperation on global connectivity in policy, infrastructure, trade, finance and people-to-people ties. Under the framework of BRI, physical connectivity of "six economic corridors, six connectivity networks, and multiple countries and ports in different parts of the world" is basically formed. It has also strengthened cooperation on institutional connectivity including policies, rules and standards. The international platform for Belt and Road cooperation has been steadily enlarged. China has set up a BRF Advisory Council consisting of leading international figures to provide advice on the growth of the Forum. In addition, China and other participating countries have in recent years set up platforms for multilateral cooperation on port, shipping, finance, taxation, energy, culture, think tank, the media and other areas and launched initiatives on a green Silk Road and a clean Silk Road. Over the past six years since the BRI was put forward, the trade volume between China and countries joining the BRI has surpassed 6 trillion US dollars, with more than 80 billion US dollars of Chinese investment in those countries. The 82 cooperation parks jointly built by China and other participating countries have created more than US$2 billion in tax revenue and about 300,000 jobs for host countries. 
In the past two years, the BRI has delivered fruitful outcomes in boosting economic growth and improving people's lives in participating countries. Thanks to Belt and Road cooperation, Kazakhstan, the world's largest landlocked country, has gained access to the Pacific Ocean through the Lianyungang port in China; and the China-Kazakhstan logistics terminal has become an international economic platform of cross-border transportation, warehousing, logistics and trade for many other Central Asian countries. One of the major projects, China-Europe Railway Express, finished 6,363 trips in 2018, with a 73% increase than the previous year. Among them, 2,690 were return trips, 111% higher than that of 2017. China-Europe Railway Express reached over 12,000 trips, connecting China with 49 cities in 15 European countries. Because of it, the number of Chinese companies operating in Duisburg, which is the first destination for China-Europe Railway Express, has grown from 40 in 2014 to more than 100. Statistics from the Duisburg City Council show that, in the city's logistics sector alone, such freight services have created more than 6,000 jobs. Since it was leased to a Chinese company, the Piraeus port in Greece has become one of the fastest growing container ports in the world, soaring to the 36th place in global container traffic ranking from the 93rd in 2010. The port has about 10 Chinese staff but employs 3,000 Greeks, and it has also created more than 10,000 indirect local jobs. 

President Xi said in a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the second BRF that China will take a series of major reform and opening-up measures, including widening market access for foreign investment in more fields, improving international cooperation on stronger intellectual property protection, increasing imports on larger scale, facilitating macro-economic policy coordination, establishing mechanisms for fulfilling international agreements, etc. China will further promote a higher quality opening-up by institutional and structural means.

In the past two years, there are also good news for China and Finland in the framework of Belt and Road cooperation. Nanjing city became Finnair’s seventh destination in China. China’s Tibet Airlines launched Jinan-Helsinki route, making itself the first Chinese airline operating flights to Finland. In addition, China’s Juneyao Airlines will operate another Shanghai-Helsinki route in June. China-Europe Railway Express connected Xi’an with Kouvola and Hefei with Helsinki. Finland gradually becomes an important gateway between China and Europe. The visions of Ice Silk Road and Digital Silk Road provided broad space for the cooperation of the two countries. Chinese investment in Finland witnessed a rapid growth in recent years. Tencent’s purchase of the mobile games maker Supercell and Anta’s purchase of the sports company Amer Sports became hits in social media. As a natural result, the Chinese Enterprises Association in Finland was established last year. The first China International Import Expo (CIIE) was warmly embraced by Finland. And the very first exhibit was a biofuel car from Finland. In the road show of the second CIIE, five Finnish enterprises registered on the spot, and one of them registered for the third CIIE in advance.

At the beginning of this year, President Ninistö paid a state visit to China, as the first head of state to visit China in 2019. In two years, the two heads finished mutual visits, marking a new record in the bilateral relations. In the meantime, it is also a symbol of the rapid development of China-Finland friendship. We firmly believe that with joint efforts, the BRI will offer more opportunities to the two countries and the peoples, shaping a brighter future.

Notes: The writer is the Ambassador of People Republic of China to Finland.