"Belt and Road" should be collective endeavor
China Daily Hong Kong Edition - editorial
Vision and Actions on Jointly Building the “Silk Road Economic Belt” and “21st-Century Maritime Silk Road”, the first official document detailing the initiative, lays out an ambitious blueprint for their realization. Its materialization would revitalize an extensive historical trade corridor and instill badly needed energy into the economies along them.
The vision of a more tightly interconnected Asia, Europe and Africa, even if it is just economically, makes the road map tantalizing. Few other development initiatives today have the potential to benefit more than 60 percent of the planet’s inhabitants.
The initiative has resonated widely and received an enthusiastic response because it starts with and is centered on construction for greater interconnectivity, which is set to improve the infrastructure for all stakeholders. And the Chinese initiatives to establish the Silk Road Fund, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, BRICS Development Bank and the SCO Development Bank make the blueprint financially credible.
China’s own rags-to-riches story owes a lot to the upgrading of its infrastructure, which remains an obvious weakness in many countries along the Belt and Road. Better infrastructure will help those countries’ own capacity building and facilitate trade. That is why the initiatives are considered an all-win formula.
With its potential benefits for all, the Belt and Road Initiative is a worthy cause for all. Which is precisely why the entire process should be based on common and shared visions and actions, not just China’s.
With its impressive financial capabilities, strong desire to contribute to regional and global development as a responsible rising power, China has every reason to propose and lead such an open and inclusive development program.
But like any blueprint, the initiative should not just sound good and look good, it must offer real gains to all stakeholders, China included. Given the complex political, cultural, security, and socio-economic conditions in related countries, aspirations need the backup of solid feasibility studies and close engagement with related countries. The capital-intensive nature of interconnectivity construction makes risk-management particularly important.
Given the mutually beneficial nature of the Belt and Road Initiative, it should never be approached as a Chinese project. It should only be a China-led project of collective endeavors, where all expectant beneficiaries contribute.
Not all countries are equally zealous about the initiative. That makes close consultation and cooperation with stakeholders even more indispensable. Unless our government is single-mindedly after grandeur, it must always be practical and make sure the outcomes are indeed mutually beneficial.