(BRF2023) China Chat | BRI offers developing countries new path to prosperity: British scholar

By Xinhua
On 17 October 2023 at 08:29

BEIJING, Oct. 16 (Xinhua) — The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is transforming the global agenda, offering developing countries a new path to prosperity, as observed by British scholar Martin Jacques.

In an exclusive interview with Xinhua’s China Chat Show, Jacques described the BRI as an "epic project, epic narrative, and epic reflection on Chinese history."

This grand project is made possible by China’s ability to draw upon its history as a great nation as well as its unmatched ability to think on a grand scale. "No other country would think of something like this, because China thinks big," he said.

The BRI was initiated by China in 2013 to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa on and beyond the ancient Silk Road trade routes. This year marks its 10th anniversary, and the eagerly anticipated third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation will be held in Beijing from Oct. 17 to 18.

China’s ambitious vision for a new global paradigm is also a reflection of its identity as a developing country itself, argued Jacques.

The developing countries, representing about 85 percent of the world’s population, only made up one-third of global GDP in the 1970s. Today the figure has reached 60 percent, with the BRI contributing to this transformation.

The developing world is "overwhelmingly signed up to the idea," as the benefits of joining the initiative are clear for all to see, while the BRI has made development "one of the central priorities on the global agenda," Jacques noted.

Crucially, he said, such a paradigm shift would never have come about were it left to the West, whose relationship with the developing world has been built upon a foundation of colonial exploitation.

This inability to view the developing world in more equal terms has meant that the West was "caught completely flat-footed on the Belt and Road," he added.

While the West continues to view the world in terms of competing blocs, China is putting forward an entirely different vision for international relations.

This alternative path reflects an increasingly globalized world, one with "wider, broader interests that bring sections of humanity and ultimately the whole of humanity together," he said.

Of course, with such an ambitious and monumental project, there will be bumps in the road, for as Jacques noted, "If there are no problems at all, then excuse me, but there’s no project."

Looking at the entirety of the project, the BRI has been remarkably successful, and there is no sign of it slowing down anytime soon. As Jacques put it simply, "I think it’s here to stay, and it will stay."