A Decade of Transformation: The “Belt and Road” Initiative's Global Impact
In the world of international cooperation and infrastructure development, few initiatives have garnered as much attention and global participation as China's ambitious "Belt and Road" initiative. As we mark its first decade, it is undeniable that this initiative has evolved into a pivotal global force, creating waves of positive change in the spheres of connectivity, trade, investment, and cultural exchange.
Positive Responses from Across the Globe
The "Belt and Road" initiative has transcended borders and gained significant traction across the world. Since its inception, China has signed over 200 cooperation agreements with 151 countries and 32 international organizations, spanning diverse sectors such as connectivity, trade, investment, finance, society, ocean, e-commerce, technology, people's livelihood, and humanities. This initiative has undeniably become a cornerstone of international cooperation in the modern world.
Infrastructure Interconnection Redefined
Over the past decade, with collective efforts, the "Belt and Road" initiative has successfully crafted an interconnection architecture characterized by "six corridors, six routes, multiple countries, and multiple ports." This achievement has allowed for the execution of numerous mutually beneficial and win-win projects. Notably, it has transformed land-locked nations like Laos and Nepal into land-linked countries while granting landlocked countries like Kazakhstan access to the sea. Moreover, the China-Europe trains have opened up a new land transportation channel between Asia and Europe, bolstering the stability and efficiency of supply and industrial chains for nations along the route.
Expanding Economic, Trade, and Investment Cooperation
The economic, trade, and investment dimensions of the initiative continue to expand. On one hand, trade liberalization and facilitation in countries along the route are on the rise, with China signing 19 free trade agreements with 26 countries and regions by the end of 2022. These agreements span Asia, Oceania, Latin America, Europe, and Africa, contributing to a more interconnected global marketplace. Additionally, the Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) mutual recognition arrangements between China Customs and 32 co-building countries and regions have streamlined trade, fostering closer cooperation within industrial and supply chains. As a result, China's exports to countries along the Belt and Road have surged, especially in the textile, electronic components, basic organic chemicals, and automobile parts sectors.
Stimulating Economic Growth
A recent World Bank report highlights the tangible economic benefits derived from the "Belt and Road" initiative. It reveals that this initiative has boosted trade among participant nations by 4.1%, attracted foreign investments by 5%, and increased the GDP of low-income countries by 3.4%. Over the past decade, the GDP share of emerging and developing economies worldwide has grown by 3.6 percentage points, largely attributed to the "Belt and Road" construction. Looking ahead, the World Bank predicts that by 2030, this initiative will generate a staggering US$1.6 trillion in annual global benefits, equivalent to 1.3% of the global GDP. These far-reaching economic impacts are set to lift millions out of poverty, with 7.6 million people moving out of absolute poverty and 32 million out of moderate poverty by 2030.
Deepening People-to-People and Cultural Exchanges
A less-tangible yet equally significant aspect of the "Belt and Road" initiative is its role in fostering people-to-people and cultural exchanges. China has actively promoted these exchanges through agreements on mutual recognition of higher education qualifications, the establishment of the "Luban Workshop," and the creation of the Silk Road International Theater Alliance, Museum Alliance, Art Festival Alliance, Library Alliance, and more. The "Silk Road Family" initiative has continued to advance, promoting diverse interactions and exchanges in culture, education, and tourism. These endeavors have infused vitality into the "Belt and Road" initiative, strengthening bonds among nations along the route.
In conclusion, a decade of relentless dedication to the "Belt and Road" initiative has redefined the global landscape of connectivity, trade, investment, and cultural exchange. With over 200 cooperation agreements, improved infrastructure interconnection, expanding economic cooperation, and the promise of lifting millions out of poverty, the initiative has made its mark on the world stage. Additionally, its commitment to people-to-people and cultural exchanges underscores the holistic approach it takes to international cooperation. As we move forward, the "Belt and Road" initiative is poised to continue shaping the world for years to come, proving to be a transformative force in global affairs.