Beijing, China – Chinese President, Xi Jinping says the One Belt One Road (OBOR) forum for international cooperation sends a positive message to the Western world that developing countries will work together with a share vision to build a future for mankind.
The Chinese leader was briefing the press on Monday, May 15 at the end of a two-day OBOR forum which brought together in Beijing 29 world leaders and over 110 representatives of international institutions.
The Belt and Road initiative was reinvigorated by President Xi in 2013. It calls for people-to-people exchange, win-win cooperation, and share benefits amongst participating nations. It also focuses on cooperation amongst countries of Europe, Asia and Africa along the ancient Silk Road which connects about 60 countries but open to the rest of the world.
A joint communiqué of leaders attending the summit was signed as a road map with key priorities areas to provide connectivity and economic boost for countries with ideologies of globalization at the core was signed on Monday.
“We are mindful that the world economy is undergoing profound changes, presenting both opportunities and challenges. This is an era of opportunity, where countries continue to aspire for peace, development and cooperation,” states the communiqué.
Amongst several important points, the communiqué welcomes bilateral, triangular, regional and multilateral cooperation to eradicate poverty, create jobs; improve innovation, deal with international financial crisis and market-based industrial transformation and economic diversity.
It also calls for people-to-people exchanges, promote peace, protect the environment, gender equality, women empowerment, curb corruption, and several other issues of international concern.
Xi said the initiative will build on what has already been achieved and will address major challenges facing the world’s economy. But he admitted that the initiative has long way to go and should continue to foster partnership while announcing that China will again host the second OBOR forum in 2019.
When President Xi delivered his keynote speech at the opening of the summit on Sunday, May 14 he said the benefits of cooperation will be share by all participating countries, adding it will require the efforts of all nations.
He described the summit as a ‘gathering of great minds’ and outlined the enormous benefits the initiative can bring through cooperation.
"In pursuing the Belt and Road Initiative, we should focus on the fundamental issue of development, release the growth potential of various countries and achieve economic integration and interconnected development and deliver benefits to all," he said.
Highlighting the key principles of the OBOR initiative, Xi promised China’s cooperation for peace, prosperity, globalization and innovation, and said that “a solid step has been taken” to promote the initiative.
"We should foster a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation; and we should forge partnerships of dialogue with no confrontation and of friendship rather than alliance," Xi said.
He then emphasized the significance of trade, describing it as an engine driving growth and encouraged countries to uphold the “multilateral trading regime, advance the building of free trade areas and promote liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment”.
President Xi called for a noble approach for the initiative which he asserted will see China embracing the outside world with a noble mind by empowering society and protecting the environment.
"We should establish a stable and sustainable financial safeguard system that keeps risks under control, create new models of investment and financing, encourage greater cooperation between government and private capital and build a diversified financing system and a multi-tiered capital market, " he told world leaders attending the forum at China National Convention Center in Beijing.
Earlier, the Chinese leader recalled the over 2,000 years’ history of cultural, social and economic benefits of the ancient Silk Road that was utilized by traders and explorers thousands of years ago. He said it helped built peace and openness for cooperation and improved religious and cultural exchanges amongst peoples.
"The ancient silk routes embody the spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit," he said.
Xi believes for the world to recover from its prevailing economic turbulent, new drives with more balance and inclusive approach is needed to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor.
He also announced a US$14.5 billion contribution to the Silk Road Fund, to support projects, and said additional US$8.7 billion in assistance to developing countries.
Mutual and Non-Interference Partnership
He then refuted assumptions and criticisms that his country wants to dominate the initiative to gain global supremacy, while also welcoming all countries to take part. He said the initiative will be based on "fair, reasonable and transparent global trade and investment rules".
"What we hope to create is a big family of harmonious co-existence," Xi said. “We have no interest to impose our will and will avoid geopolitics maneuvering. China is willing to share its development experience with all countries. We will not interfere in other countries' internal affairs."
World Leaders Applaud Initiative
Twenty nine head of states from Asia, Europe, Africa and Latin America attending summit, amogst them were Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President Rodrigo Duterte of Philippines, President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn.
The prime ministers of Spain, Italy, Greece and Hungary also attended the forum as well as the President of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde; President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim and United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres.
Mr. Guterres praised China for leading the globalization drive and said the OBOR is an opportunity for countries yarning for development.
“The Belt and Road initiative is truly a share vision for global development and indeed China is at the centre of multilateralism,” the UN chief said.
“China played a key role in shaping the 20th century agenda…, a multicultural world means multilateral cooperation and multilateral governments and to share opportunities we must take its spirit to new heights for the benefits of all.”
For President Putin, the world needs fresh ideas that are free of stereotypes in order to demonstrate the example of building partnership and having instrument of cooperation.
Frowning on protectionism during his remark, he then assured Russia’s support to the OBOR.
"Protectionism is becoming the new normal," Putin said. "The ideas of openness and free trade are increasingly often being rejected by those who until very recently expounded them."
Ethiopian Prime Minister hailed China for its economic growth, thanked President Xi for his vision and said China being the largest developing country and second largest economy in the world, is continuously playing “a critical role for global development and open approach across the developing nations”.
“We in Africa continue to view China as a successful economic module and a reliable ally in the fight against poverty and in our request for prosperity,” Mr. Desalegn said.
The Ethiopian Prime Minister added that China continuous to deliver on its commitment as an “emerging global power by taking the lead in global cooperation initiative such as the Belt and Road,” which he described as the “largest non-conflicting economic cooperation of the 21st century”.
He said the OBOR brings to the fore a unique opportunity for enhancing regional cooperation, sustainable economic growth and achievement to global achievement for the 2030 agenda, otherwise known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).