Xinhua Commentary: 10 years on, Belt and Road cooperation delivers fruitful outcomes

By Xinhua
On 13 October 2023 at 02:07

BEIJING, Oct. 11 (Xinhua) — A decade after its launch, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has yielded substantial benefits and achieved initial success in promoting shared development and prosperity for participating countries, all amid a changing global situation.

Guided by the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution, and shared benefits, BRI cooperation has covered the majority of the world’s countries. By June 2023, China had signed more than 200 BRI cooperation agreements with over 150 countries and 30 international organizations across five continents, yielding a number of signature projects as well as "small yet beautiful" programs focusing on improving people’s livelihoods.

As the BRI marks its 10th anniversary, especially with the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation scheduled for Oct. 17 to 18 in Beijing, a brief review of the initiative’s popularity and solid results is necessary to respond to those nitpickers who are negative about the BRI and have defamed it via deceitful means.

From 2013 to 2022, the cumulative value of trade between China and BRI partner countries reached 19.1 trillion U.S. dollars, with an average annual growth rate of 6.4 percent. Cumulative two-way investment between China and partner countries reached 380 billion dollars, including 240 billion dollars from China.

A series of landmark BRI projects such as the China-Laos Railway, the Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway, and the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway, were completed and put into operation, improving the infrastructure of partner countries and significantly enhancing connectivity.

As regards specific cooperation projects, the annual cargo throughput of the Port of Piraeus in Greece has increased to above 5 million twenty-foot equivalent units. The container terminal of Piraeus now ranks among the world’s 40 largest ports. Before China’s investment, Port of Piraeus ranked 93rd. Hambantota International Port in Sri Lanka is steadily moving toward its goal of becoming a hub in the region, with its annual throughput of bulk cargo increasing to 1.21 million tonnes. Yet some Western media have labeled the Hambantota port a "failed project" under the BRI.

To expand channels and platforms for investment and financing, China has funded the establishment of the Silk Road Fund and established the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, along with other participating countries. These serve as a supplement to other multilateral financing institutions and help bridge financial gaps in improving infrastructure in developing countries.

The BRI, which is committed to open, green and clean cooperation, has created a new paradigm for cooperation and become the world’s largest platform for international cooperation and a popular public good. It has seen notable outcomes in promoting connectivity in policy, infrastructure, trade, financing and people-to-people bonds, reinforcing the development capacity of relevant countries, improving people’s lives, and paving the way toward shared development and prosperity.

BRI-related cooperation principles have been incorporated into documents of organizations including the United Nations and the G20. The World Bank has estimated that by 2030, BRI-related investments could lift 7.6 million people out of extreme poverty and 32 million out of moderate poverty.

The all-round progress in BRI cooperation is recognized internationally. The BRI has brought great benefits to the Global South and the global economy in its first decade. It not only increased connectivity through energy and infrastructure construction and unlocked growth potentials, but also expanded energy access for the poor across the world, said Kevin P. Gallagher, director of the Global Development Policy Center at Boston University.

As representatives from more than 130 countries and over 30 international organizations are set to convene in Beijing to pool wisdom and foster new momentum and consensus at the upcoming forum, the BRI will demonstrate greater creativity and vitality and open up fresh opportunities for common development and prosperity among participating countries in the second 10 years.