Second Belt and Road Forum and China’s push for transnational cooperation
Nothing typifies China’s push for transnational economic cooperation and the spread of global wealth than its Road and Belt Initiative, otherwise called the BRI: a recreation of the ancient Silk Road.
The BRI strategy according to Xi is to promote the spread of global prosperity of the countries along the belt and road, foster regional economic cooperation, strengthen exchanges and encourage world peace and development.
The revival of the ancient silk road and by implication a new global economic zone is an ambitious project which the Chinese in the course of the last six years has shown great commitments and dedication in the actualization of its key goals and objectives.
China has put its money where its mouth is. This has been largely achieved through financing of new and ambitious projects in all OBOR countries with the key aim of increasing trade, building linkages and creating wealth.
While the West looked on with suspicious and uncertainty, China has focused it attention and commitment to its vision of shared prosperity for the global community.
Where the West have failed to lead, China is evidently charting a new global economic future. This may as well be a counterpoise to western passivism and inertial.
Trump American first policy, signals a rejection of globalization and a push towards primordial inclination and nationalism. What else demonstrates this contradiction than Trump’s advocacy for a wall along its border with Mexico? The paradox is that America is a country of immigrants build by the sweat and blood of immigrants. The Mexicans are driven by hunger and poverty to the borders of a very rich country that is unwilling to share its wealth and prosperity with others.
In Europe, Britain is caught in the crucible of nationalism. A once global power, has reduced itself to the fringes. Brexit typifies an unwillingness to be a global player and expand the frontiers of civilization and wealth. This calls for concern. Ironically these two global powers were at the forefront of the push for globalization, to jettison an idea they propounded and is at the roots of their economic prosperity is worrisome.
Do we then say that globalization and the propagation and sharing of global prosperity has ran its full course?
This is a question of concern. A concern because globalization has aided global wealth and prosperity to the benefit of western nations. Globalization has only began to benefit developing countries in Asia and Africa. A reversal would only mean increased poverty among developing nations especially those in sub-Saharan Africa because it denies them the opportunity to grow trade, interconnectivity, and investments that can reduce poverty in their countries.
Thankfully China has risen to the challenge through the Belt and Road Initiative, BRI. The second in it series, which took place in Beijing starting April 25th, was an opportunity to review the achievement of the BRI since it was inaugurated in 2014 and make projection into the future while at the same time allowing for more countries to join the one belt and one road transnational economic cooperation.
According to President Li Xinping of China, the second BRI, was larger and more substantive than the first one, attracting more countries and producing more results. It had in attendance, delegates and business representatives from over 150 countries who took part in high-level meeting covering 12 thematic forums and a CEO conference.
To underscore the global significance of the Forum, the Leaders’ Roundtable for instance was attended by leaders from 38 countries as well as the United Nations (UN) and the International Monetary Fund.
The theme of this year’s Forum captures the essence of the BRI: “Belt and Road Cooperation: Shaping a Brighter Shared Future”.
It key objective according to president Xi is, “Boosting Connectivity to Explore New Sources of Growth”, “Strengthening Policy Synergy and Building Closer Partnerships” and “Promoting Green and Sustainable Development to Implement UN 2030 Agenda”.
Xi, noted that participating countries reached extensive consensus on promoting high-quality Belt and Road cooperation with refined principles, clear priorities and stronger mechanisms. The Joint Communiqué issued by the Leaders Roundtable is a reflection of a consensus to advance Belt and Road cooperation in years to come.
He noted that the forum spoke positively of the progress and value of Belt and Road cooperation. We shared the view that Belt and Road cooperation has created opportunities for common prosperity. Since the BRI was proposed over five years ago, and especially after the first BRF, countries concerned have made concerted efforts to expand policy communication, upgrade infrastructure connectivity, advance economic, trade and investment cooperation, enhance financial cooperation, and facilitate people-to-people exchange.
The “early harvests” of Belt and Road cooperation achieved so far have opened up greater space for national and global economic growth, provided a platform for enhancing international cooperation, and made a fresh contribution to building a community with a shared future for mankind.
The Chinese President also reaffirmed China’s commitment to the BRI, “guided by the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits” noting that, participants “have conducted consultation as equals, jointly shouldered responsibilities and enjoyed the benefits together”.
He used the occasion to once again call on all countries willing to join the BRI to come forward as it was opened “All interested countries are welcome to join us. We are committed to supporting open, clean and green development and rejecting protectionism, and are working hard to develop a clean and green Silk Road for the new era. We have agreed to act on the principles of high standard, people-centered and sustainable development, align our cooperation with universally accepted international rules and standards, follow the philosophy of people-centered development, and pursue coordinated progress in economic, social and environmental dimensions. These common views have pointed the way for Belt and Road cooperation toward our common goal, that is, to realize more effective connectivity between countries, promote stronger economic growth and closer international cooperation, and deliver better lives to our peoples”.
This is profound and shows that China through the BRI has no other motive than the projection of soft power and promotion of global prosperity and connectivity through trade.
The Belt and Road cooperation has clear initiatives which is to strengthen all-round and multi-tiered cooperation. As noted by the Xi, BRI, “will continue to promote land, sea, air and cyber connectivity and develop high-quality, sustainable, resilient, affordable, inclusive and accessible infrastructure.
That will advance the development of economic corridors and trade cooperation zones, enhance the alignment between markets, regulations and standards, and encourage the development of digital infrastructure”.
BRI has become a global partnership on connectivity that will strengthen mechanisms for cooperation through multilateralism, and bilateral cooperation in various areas. The goal according to the Chinese President is to see that BRI is “guided by an overall vision, followed up by actions and supported by concrete institutions”.
In terms of achievement, agreements worth over US$64 billion, were signed during the forum. “All of this shows that Belt and Road cooperation is in sync with the times, widely supported, people-centered and beneficial to all”.
Evidently, China is opening up, it is only hoped that Nigeria as a signatory to the Belt and Road cooperation will leverage on the opportunities it provides to attract more Chinese investments into the country.