1. Policy coordination
2. Infrastructure connectivity
3. Unimpeded trade
4. Financial integration
5. Closer people-to-people ties
6. Industrial cooperation
1. Extensive consultation: from a Chinese proposal to a global consensus
2. Joint contribution: joining forces to build a harmonious international community
3. Shared benefits: ensuring all parties gain real benefits
4. Vision: building a global community of shared future
1. A road of peace
2. A road of prosperity
3. A road of opening up
4. A road of green development
5. A road of innovation
6. A road of connected civilizations
7. A road of clean government
When visiting Kazakhstan and Indonesia in September and October of 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping raised the initiative of jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (hereinafter referred to as the Belt and Road, or B&R). The Chinese government then set up the Leading Group for Promoting the Belt and Road Initiative with an administrative office under the National Development and Reform Commission. In March 2015, the Chinese government published the "Vision and Actions on Jointly Building Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road". In May 2017, the first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation was convened in Beijing. China also hosted the Boao Forum for Asia annual conferences, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Qingdao Summit, the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), and the China International Import Expo. Over the past five years, the Belt and Road Initiative has won positive responses from numerous countries and international organizations and has attracted worldwide attention. Its influence is growing.
The Belt and Road Initiative originated in China, but it belongs to the world. It is rooted in history, but oriented toward the future. It focuses on Asia, Europe and Africa, but is open to all partners. It spans different countries and regions, different stages of development, different historical traditions, different cultures and religions, and different customs and lifestyles. It is an initiative for peaceful development and economic cooperation, rather than a geopolitical or military alliance. It is a process of open, inclusive and common development, not an exclusionary bloc or a "China club". It neither differentiates between countries by ideology nor plays the zero-sum game. Countries are welcome to join in the initiative if they so will.
The Belt and Road Initiative upholds the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution, and shared benefits. It follows a Silk Road spirit featuring peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit. It focuses on policy coordination, connectivity of infrastructure, unimpeded trade, financial integration, and closer people-to-people ties. It has turned ideas into actions and vision into reality, and the initiative itself into a public product widely welcomed by the international community.
When presiding over a symposium in August 2018 that marked the fifth anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative, President Xi said that in advancing the initiative, we should transition from making high-level plans to intensive and meticulous implementation, so as to realize high-quality development, bring benefits to local people, and build a global community of shared future.
Since 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative, with policy coordination, connectivity of infrastructure, unimpeded trade, financial integration and closer people-to-people ties as its main goals, has advanced in solid steps. Significant progress has been made, including a number of landmark early results. Participating countries have obtained tangible benefits, and their appreciation of and participation in the initiative is growing.
Policy coordination is an important guarantee for this initiative, and an essential precondition for joint actions. Over the past five years or so, China has engaged in thorough communication and coordination with participating countries and international organizations, and reached a broad consensus on international cooperation for building the Belt and Road.
1. The Belt and Road Initiative has been incorporated into important documents of international organizations. The initiative and its core concepts have been written into documents from the United Nations, G20, APEC and other international and regional organizations. In July 2015, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization issued the "Ufa Declaration of the Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization", showing support for the Silk Road Economic Belt initiative. In September 2016, the "G20 Leaders' Communiqué" adopted at the G20 Hangzhou Summit endorsed an initiative to establish the Global Infrastructure Connectivity Alliance. In November 2016, the 193 UN member states adopted by consensus a resolution, welcoming the Belt and Road Initiative and other economic cooperation initiatives and urging the international community to ensure a secure environment for these initiatives. In March 2017, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2344, calling on the international community to strengthen regional economic cooperation through the Belt and Road Initiative and other development initiatives, while for the first time enshrining the concept of "a community of shared future for mankind". In January 2018, the Second Ministerial Meeting of the Forum of China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) was held in Santiago and adopted the "Special Declaration on the Belt and Road Initiative". In July the same year, the Eighth Ministerial Meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF) was convened in Beijing, which adopted the "Declaration of Action on China-Arab States Belt and Road Cooperation". In September the FOCAC Beijing Summit adopted the "Beijing Declaration－Toward an Even Stronger China-Africa Community with a Shared Future" and the "Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Beijing Action Plan (2019-2021)".
2. More and more countries and international organizations have signed intergovernmental cooperation agreements on the Belt and Road Initiative. In the B&R framework, all participating countries and international organizations, based on the principle of seeking common ground while reserving differences, have exchanged views on economic development plans and policies and discussed and agreed economic cooperation plans and measures. By the end of March 2019, the Chinese government had signed 173 cooperation agreements with 125 countries and 29 international organizations. The Belt and Road has expanded from Asia and Europe to include more new participants in Africa, Latin America and the South Pacific.
3. Coordination and cooperation in specific fields of the Belt and Road Initiative have progressed steadily. The Digital Silk Road has become an important part of the Belt and Road Initiative. China has launched the "Belt and Road Digital Economy International Cooperation Initiative" with Egypt, Laos, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Thailand, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. It has signed cooperation agreements with 16 countries to strengthen the construction of the Digital Silk Road. China issued the "Action Plan on Belt and Road Standard Connectivity (2018-2020)". It has signed 85 standardization cooperation agreements with 49 countries and regions. The long-term mechanism for tax cooperation between B&R countries is maturing. China co-organized the Belt and Road Initiative Tax Cooperation Conference (BRITCC) in May 2018, which published the "Astana Proposal by BRITCC Participating Jurisdictions for Enhancing Cooperation in Tax Matters", signaling that the cooperation network has expanded to 111 countries and regions. China and 49 B&R countries published the "Joint Statement on Pragmatic Cooperation in the Field of Intellectual Property Among Countries Along the Belt and Road" in August 2018. In July 2018 China hosted the Forum on the Belt and Road Legal Cooperation, which published the "Statement of the Co-Chairs of the Forum on the Belt and Road Legal Cooperation". In October 2018 China hosted the Belt and Road Energy Ministerial Conference and 18 countries jointly announced building the B&R energy partnership. In addition, China published the "Vision and Action on Jointly Promoting Agricultural Cooperation on the Belt and Road" in May 2017 and the "Vision for Maritime Cooperation Under the Belt and Road Initiative" in June the same year. China has been a strong proponent of the establishment of international commercial courts and a "one-stop" diversified resolution mechanism for international commercial disputes.
Infrastructure connectivity is high on the B&R agenda. While committed to respecting the sovereignty and security concerns of all relevant countries, B&R countries have made concerted efforts to build an all-round, multi-level, and composite infrastructure framework centered on railways, roads, shipping, aviation, pipelines, and integrated space information networks. This framework is taking shape rapidly. It has greatly reduced the transaction costs of products, capital, information, and technologies flowing between regions, and effectively promoted the orderly flow and optimal allocation of resources among different regions. Thus it will help achieve mutually beneficial cooperation and common development.
1. Significant progress has been made in the construction of international economic cooperation corridors and passageways. The six major corridors for international economic cooperation－the New Eurasian Land Bridge, and the China-Mongolia-Russia, China-Central Asia-West Asia, China-Indochina Peninsula, China-Pakistan, and Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar economic corridors－connect the Asian economic circle with the European economic circle. They have played an important role in establishing and strengthening connectivity partnerships between participating countries and building an efficient and smooth Eurasian market.
・ New Eurasian Land Bridge. Over the past five years or so, regional cooperation through the New Eurasian Land Bridge has widened, enhancing partnerships featuring openness, inclusiveness, and mutual benefits to a higher level and driving forward economic and trade exchanges between Asia and Europe. The "Budapest Guidelines for Cooperation Between China and Central and Eastern European Countries" and the "Sofia Guidelines for Cooperation Between China and Central and Eastern European Countries" have been published, showing that steady progress is being made in pragmatic cooperation in the frameworks of the China-EU Connectivity Platform and the Investment Plan for Europe. Construction has started on the Belgrade-Stara Pazova section of the Hungary-Serbia Railway in Serbia. The Western China-Western European International Expressway connecting western China, Kazakhstan, Russia and Western Europe is basically complete.
・ China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor. China, Mongolia, and Russia have made positive efforts to build a cross-border infrastructure connectivity network consisting mainly of railways, roads and border ports. In 2018, the three countries signed the "Memorandum of Understanding on Establishing a Joint Mechanism for Advancing the China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor", making further progress in improving the working mechanism of the tripartite cooperation. China's side of the Tongjiang-Nizhneleninskoye railway bridge was completed in October 2018. Construction of the Heihe-Blagoveshchensk road bridge is progressing smoothly. A Sino-Russian enterprise consortium has completed preliminary design of the Moscow-Kazan High-Speed Railway. The "Intergovernmental Agreement on International Road Transport Along the Asian Highway Network" signed and approved by the three countries has entered into force. The China-Mongolia-Russia cross-border terrestrial cable system has been completed.
・ China-Central Asia-West Asia Economic Corridor. Over the past five years or so, cooperation has advanced in energy, infrastructure connectivity, economy and trade, and industrial capacity in this corridor's framework. China has signed bilateral agreements on international road transport with Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkey, and other countries, as well as China-Pakistan-Kazakhstan-Kyrgyzstan, China-Kazakhstan-Russia, China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan, and some other multilateral agreements on international road transport, constantly improving infrastructure construction in Central Asia and West Asia. The China-Saudi Arabia Investment Cooperation Forum has promoted industrial complementarity between the Belt and Road Initiative and Saudi Vision 2030, and has concluded cooperation agreements worth more than US$28 billion. China and Iran have drawn on their strengths in various fields and are strengthening their combined forces in the fields of roads, infrastructure and energy.
・ China-Indochina Peninsula Economic Corridor. Over the past five years or so, progress has been made in infrastructure connectivity and construction of cross-border economic cooperation zones through this corridor. The Kunming-Bangkok Expressway has been completed, while the China-Laos and China-Thailand railways and some other projects are well underway. Cooperation has started in building the China-Laos Economic Corridor. More intensive efforts have been made to dovetail Thailand's Eastern Economic Corridor and the Belt and Road Initiative. Economic cooperation between China and Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Viet Nam and Thailand is advancing steadily. Positive roles for the China-ASEAN (10+1) cooperation mechanism, Lancang-Mekong cooperation mechanism, and Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Economic Cooperation are becoming clearer.
・ China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. A cooperation plan focusing on energy, transportation infrastructure, industrial park cooperation, and Gwadar Port has been implemented in the framework of this corridor. China and Pakistan have established the Joint Cooperation Committee of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which meets regularly. Smooth progress has been made in a number of projects. Key projects, such as the road to the Gwadar Port, Peshawar-Karachi Motorway (Sukkur-Multan section), Karakoram Highway Phase II (Havelian-Thakot section), Lahore Orange Line Metro, and 1,320MW Coal-Fired Power Plants at Port Qasim have been launched. Some projects have already brought benefits. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is open to third parties for cooperation, and more countries have joined or expressed a willingness to participate.
・ Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor. Over the past five years or so, the four countries have worked together to build this corridor in the framework of joint working groups, and have planned a number of major projects in institutional development, infrastructure connectivity, cooperation in trade and industrial parks, cooperation and opening up in the financial market, cultural exchange, and cooperation in enhancing people's wellbeing. A Joint Committee of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor has been established. The two countries have also signed an MoU on building the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor, as well as papers on a feasibility study for the Muse-Mandalay Railway, and the Framework Agreement on the Kyauk Phyu Special Economic Zone Deep-Sea Port Project.
2. Infrastructure connectivity has been remarkably enhanced. "Access to roads will enable all sectors of the economy to prosper." Insufficient infrastructure investment is a bottleneck for economic development in developing countries. Accelerating infrastructure connectivity is a key area and core goal of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Major progress has been made in building inter-regional and intercontinental railway networks focusing on such cooperation projects as the China-Laos Railway, China-Thailand Railway, Hungary-Serbia Railway, and Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway.
Preliminary research has advanced on the eastern route of the Pan-Asia Railway Network, the upgrade of Pakistan's Karachi-Peshawar Railway Line (also referred to as Main Line 1 or ML-1), and the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan Railway. A pre-feasibility study on a China-Nepal cross-border railway has been completed.
After preliminary work on China Railway Express cargo trains, an international railway operation mechanism with cooperation among multiple countries has been established. Railway companies of China, Belarus, Germany, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Poland, and Russia have signed an agreement on deeper cooperation in China-Europe rail service. By the end of 2018, China-Europe rail service had connected 108 cities in 16 countries in Asia and Europe. A total of 13,000 trains had carried more than 1.1 million TEUs. Among the trains starting from China, 94 percent were fully loaded; and among those arriving in China, 71 percent were fully loaded.
China has cooperated with other B&R countries in customs clearance to make it more convenient and efficient for the operation of the trains. The average inspection rate and customs clearance turnover time have both decreased by 50 percent.
Trial operations have been carried out on nonstop transport on the China-Mongolia-Russia, China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan, China-Russia (Dalian-Novosibirsk) and China-Viet Nam roads. In February 2018, regular operation began on the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan highway. China-Viet Nam Beilun River Bridge II has been completed and opened to traffic. China formally joined the Convention on International Transport of Goods Under Cover of TIR Carnets (TIR Convention). It has signed 18 bilateral and multilateral international transport facilitation agreements with 15 B&R countries, including the "Intergovernmental Agreement of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Member States on the Facilitation of International Road Transport". Positive progress has been made in implementing the GMS "Agreement for the Facilitation of Cross-Border Transport of Goods and People".
In Pakistan's Gwadar Port, routes for regular container liners have been opened and supporting facilities in the starting area of the Gwadar Free Trade Zone completed, attracting more than 30 companies into the area. Preliminary work has been completed for Sri Lanka's Hambantota Port Special Economic Zone, including defining the zone's industrial functions and making conceptual plans. An important transit hub has been completed at the Port of Piraeus in Greece, and Phase III construction is to be completed. Khalifa Port Container Terminal Phase II in the United Arab Emirates officially opened in December 2018. China has signed 38 bilateral and regional shipping agreements with 47 B&R countries. China's Ningbo Shipping Exchange has made constant efforts to improve the Maritime Silk Road Freight Index and released the China-CEEC Trade Index (CCTI) and the Ningbo Port Index.
・ Air transport
China has signed bilateral intergovernmental air transport agreements with 126 countries and regions. It has expanded arrangements for air traffic rights with Luxembourg, Russia, Armenia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Israel, Mongolia, Malaysia, and Egypt. Over the past five years or so, 1,239 new international routes have opened between China and other B&R countries, accounting for 69.1 percent of the total of China's new international routes over that period.
・ Energy facilities
China has signed a large number of cooperation framework agreements and MoUs with other B&R countries, and has carried out extensive cooperation in the fields of electricity, oil and gas, nuclear power, new energy, and coal. It works with relevant countries to ensure the safe operation of oil and gas pipeline networks and optimize the configuration of energy resources between countries and regions.
The China-Russia crude oil pipeline and the China-Central Asia natural gas pipeline have maintained stable operation. Certain sections of the eastern route of the China-Russia natural gas pipeline will enter service in December 2019 and the entire eastern route will be completed and enter service in 2024. China-Myanmar oil and gas pipelines have been completed.
・ Communication facilities
Significant progress has been made in the construction of China-Myanmar, China-Pakistan, China-Kyrgyzstan, and China-Russia cross-border fiber optic cables for information transmission. China and the International Telecommunication Union signed a "Letter of Intent to Strengthen Cooperation on Telecommunications and Information Networks Within the Framework of the Belt and Road Initiative". China has also signed cooperation agreements with Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan on fiber optic cables, which represent the practical launch of the Silk Road Fiber Optic Cable project.
Unimpeded trade is an important goal of the Belt and Road Initiative. The efforts invested in the initiative have liberalized and facilitated trade and investment in the participating countries and regions, lowered the costs of trade and business, and released growth potential, enabling the participants to engage in broader and deeper economic globalization.
4. Financial integration
Financial integration is an important pillar of the Belt and Road Initiative. Exploring investment and financing models, international multilateral financial institutions and commercial banks have played an innovative role in expanding the channels of diversified financing, providing stable, transparent and quality financial support for the Belt and Road Initiative.
5. Closer people-to-people ties
People-to-people ties are the cultural foundation for building the Belt and Road. It is the common dream of all peoples to enjoy a peaceful and prosperous life. Over the past five years or so, the B&R countries have carried out diplomatic activities and cultural exchanges of various forms in wide fields, enhancing mutual understanding and recognition and laying a solid cultural foundation for furthering the initiative.
6. Industrial cooperation
The Belt and Road Initiative draws investment from diverse sources, encourages third-party market cooperation, and aims to build industry, supply, service, and value chains that benefit all and are shared by all, so as to provide new growth drivers for faster development in the participating countries.
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