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Extending the Belt and Road Will Become a Major Theme on Its Fifth Anniversary

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EIRNS—As China celebrates the fifth anniversary of the announcement of the Belt and Road Initiative on Sept. 7, 2013, it is underlining its world-shaping effect and preparing to extend the BRI to Africa at the Sept. 3-4 Forum of China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit. In an article in today’s Global Times by Chu Daye, entitled “B&R Kindles Confidence, Inspiration Around the World,” Chu writes that the BRI “has offered the world an innovative approach to development and inspiration,” quoting experts gathered at a conference on Aug. 26. “As of May, China has signed 103 cooperation documents with 88 countries, regions and global organizations.” “China’s ports now connect with 600 global ports to ensure maritime connectivity and the number of freight train services has risen to 10,000 between China and the EU.” (The 10,000th train just pulled into Wuhan station in the past week.)

“Trade in goods with B&R countries and regions totaled more than $5 trillion and foreign direct investment to these destinations hit $70 billion during 2013-17. In 2017, China’s trade with B&R partners accounted for 40% of global trade in goods in terms of value.”

“The rail cargo service between China and Europe and other regions is a China-led remake of the existing international rail transport that spans the Eurasian landmass, noted Bai Ming,”

a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation in Beijing.

“Before the creation of such trains, an intercontinental railway freight service existed but was not functioning much. ‘There was road and train, but no traffic and cargo,’ ”

Bai Ming said.

Ning Jizhe, director of the National Bureau of Statistics at a news briefing today said that over the five years of the BRI, Chinese enterprises have established 82 economic parks in the BRI countries, with $28.9 billion in total investment, and 24,00 jobs created for local communities.

Wang Yiwei, director of China’s Institute of International Affairs at Renmin University, who has written two books on the BRI, contrasts China’s innovation strategy with the U.S. and Europe. American innovation, he says

“emphasizes labor and improving efficiency. The European emphasizes saving resources and energy via sustainable development. ... The two types of development strategies left developing countries in mid-air as they have ample labor, rich resources but lacked skilled laborers and were weak in technology. Developing countries were marginalized in global economic development. ... B&R supersedes the old ways.”

As the BRI is meeting new obstacles thrown up by the British Empire in both Europe and the U.S., China is preparing a new thrust together with the African countries, who understand its importance for their development.