Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua contributed an article to the Mainichi Shimbun on the occasion of China’s second “Belt and Road” international forum to be held in Beijing on April 25-27.
By Cheng Yonghua, Chinese ambassador to Japan
The second international forum will be attended by about 5,000 guests from about 150 countries and 90 international organizations, including leaders of 37 nations as well as the secretary-general of the United Nations and the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The forum will issue a joint communique that calls for the promotion of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and quality development to demonstrate a political consensus. The industry representatives from various countries will sign an accord on cooperation projects.
The international community trusts and approves of the BRI simply because our international cooperation projects are producing substantial results. Over the past six years since the BRI was proposed, 126 countries and 29 international organizations have signed deals with China and trade on joint construction has totaled more than $6 trillion (about 670 trillion yen). Our golden rule of “shared benefits through joint consultation and construction” has won broad support.
China recently released “The Belt and Road Initiative Progress, Contributions and Prospects,” a report on the achievements of the BRI. The initiative is widely hailed as an international cooperation platform that many members of the international community are participating in and has become an international public good.
But regrettably, some people in the world are still preoccupied by the Cold War ideology and old-fashioned thinking, and speculate that there are problems with the BRI in terms of quality and burdening developing nations with “debt traps.”
But no single country has ever fallen into a debt crisis due to its involvement in BRI projects. The governments, businesses, and citizens of many countries that are located along the Belt and Road and have benefited from the initiative are coming forward and presenting facts and actual figures to dispel such false rumors.
In fact, many countries are successfully pulling themselves out of the “trap of underdevelopment” through the BRI. It is nonsense to call the BRI a “debt trap.”
Over the past six years, China has invested some $80 billion (8.9448 trillion yen) in countries that it engaged in joint construction with, built a total of 82 parks for international cooperation with countries located along the Belt and Road region, and created nearly 300,000 jobs locally to provide these nations with opportunities for development. Is the BRI a good program? Is it useful? Does it coincide with the development stages of countries and meet their needs? The people are the ones who know the answers to these questions.
Teaching people how to fish is more effective than simply handing out fish. The people should benefit from development and be able to build a mechanism for development of their own accord.
A lack of infrastructure is a huge obstacle for economic and social development in developing nations. In accordance with the golden rule, China promotes many key infrastructure projects in partnership with relevant nations and offers funds through preferential lending and various other programs. In essence, the BRI is a positive asset that contributes to improving people’s lives, creating more jobs and achieving sustainable development. Rather than causing problems, China is helping the world to address development inequalities.
As neighbors, China and Japan are only divided by a narrow body of water. Our mutual interests and needs have never grown continuously to this extent in the past. Situated at the easternmost end of the ancient maritime Silk Road, Japan is a natural participant in the BRI. Over the past two years, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has expressed a pro-BRI stance on a number of occasions. Japanese firms are benefiting from the China-Europe cargo railway and other BRI projects. Chinese and Japanese firms have made positive progress in third-party market cooperation. China hopes to produce many results through international cooperation based on the BRI in close partnership with Japan.
The ancient Silk Road was built on the spirit of equality based on peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and reference, and mutual benefit and win-win cooperation. This is a spiritual asset shared by all nations. The BRI is both rooted in history and future-oriented. It originated in China, but belongs to the entire world.
By cooperating closely with the entire world, China hopes to chart a path of cooperation, prosperity, openness, and win-win results that will lead to people’s happiness through hard work.