A feature by Shi Ting WANG, the Chinese Ambassador to Ghana
Accra, April 29, GNA - The second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) has been held successfully in Beijing from Thursday, April 25 to Saturday, 27, under the theme: “Belt and Road Cooperation: Shaping a Brighter Shared Future”.
Nearly 5,000 foreign guests from more than 150 countries and more than 90 international organizations came to China. They included a total of 38 heads of state, heads of government, the UN Secretary-General and the President of the International Monetary Fund. Mr Alan Kyerematen, the Minister of Trade and Industry, led the Ghanaian Delegation to the Forum.
A total of 283 items of practical outcomes were achieved during the preparatory period and in the process of the forum.
Significantly, Cooperation Agreements worth more than US$64 billion were signed at a CEO conference during the forum.
What is the Belt and Road Initiative?
Over 2,000 years ago, the Chinese ancestors, trekking across vast steppes and deserts, opened the transcontinental passage connecting Asia, Europe and Africa, known today as the Silk Road. Six hundred years ago, Chinese sailors navigated through rough seas, created sea routes linking the East with the West, which we called the maritime Silk Road.
The ancient silk road has helped build connectivity through the countries in ancient times, and now the Belt and Road Initiative will revitalize these routes and make the ancient wisdom shine in the modern times. The ancient Silk Road embodies the spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit – values, which are also shared by Ghana.
In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed a cooperative initiative to build the “New Silk Road Economic Belt” and the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road”, which finally became the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). BRI fully relies on the existing dual and multilateral mechanisms between China and relevant countries. Therefore, with the help of existing and effective regional cooperation platforms, the Belt and Road Initiative aims to borrow the historical symbols of the ancient Silk Road, hold high the banner of peaceful development and actively develop the economic partnerships with countries along the route.
BRI aims to create a community of shared interests, a community of shared destiny and a community with political mutual trust, economic integration, and cultural inclusion.
The joint pursuit of the Belt and Road Initiative aims to enhance connectivity and practical cooperation. It is about jointly meeting various challenges and risks confronting mankind and delivering win-win outcomes and common development. The participants envisage high-quality Belt and Road cooperation in enhancing connectivity by promoting development policy synergy, infrastructure development, unimpeded trade, financial cooperation and people-to-people bond, thereby enhancing practical cooperation for the well-being of peoples.
The British Historian Peter Francopan, the author of the book, ‘The Silk Roads: A New History of the World’, said: "The Silk Road once shaped the world of the past and even shaped the world today, it will shape the world of the future." As a road to peace, prosperity, openness, innovation and civilization, the "Belt and Road" will surely be far-reaching.
The achievements of the Belt and Road Initiative
Since its inception in 2013, the BRI has received positive responses and deep participation from countries along the route, and has become the world's largest cooperation platform and the most popular public product. In the past six years, China’s trade with the “Belt and Road” countries has totalled more than US$6 trillion and investment of more than US$80 billion. The 82 industry cooperative parks jointly built by China and the countries along the route have created nearly 300,000 jobs in the local areas and paid taxes of more than two billion dollars to the host countries. Facts have proved that the joint construction of the “Belt and Road” has provided new opportunities for the development of all countries in the world.
Under the joint efforts of all of participants involved in this initiative, a general connectivity framework - consisting of six corridors, six connectivity routes and multiple countries and ports- has been put in place. More than 150 countries and international organizations have signed agreements on Belt and Road cooperation with China. The complementarity between the BRI and the development plans or cooperation initiatives of international and regional organizations such as the United Nations, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the African Union, the European Union, the Eurasian Economic Union and between the BRI and the development strategies of the participating countries has been enhanced. From the Eurasian continent to Africa, the Americas and Oceania, Belt and Road cooperation has opened up new space for global economic growth, produced new platforms for international trade and investment and offered new ways for improving global economic governance. Indeed, this initiative has helped improve people's lives in countries involved and created more opportunities for common prosperity.
Going ahead, the BRI would focus on priorities and project execution, move forward with results-oriented implementation, and jointly promote high-quality Belt and Road cooperation. According to the Joint Communique of the Leaders' Roundtable of the 2nd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, BRI would keep working on four divisions to complement the goal: Strengthening Development Policy Synergy, Boosting Infrastructure Connectivity, Promoting Sustainable Development, Strengthening Practical Cooperation and Advancing People-to-People Exchanges.
However, there are still some people with ulterior motives, who blame the BRI for causing Developing countries, especially African countries to fall into the “debt trap”. Actually, since most of the debts of Africa were in the hands of developed countries for decades, it is impossible for China to set a Debt Trap for Africa. As a country, which suffered a lot from imperialism and colonialism and fought against them with Africa shoulder by shoulder, it is unlikely for China to carry out so-called neocolonialism to Africa. As a sincere and reliable friend of China, and an ascending power in the world, a strong and wealthy Africa and for that matter Ghana, is in the interest of China and the global community.
So far, no country has fallen into a debt crisis because of participating in the BRI. Many governments, enterprises and people along the route that benefit from the BRI have already stood up and used facts and data to deny the rumour. Many countries have stepped out of the "trap of no development" by participating in the BRI.
For example, Kazakhstan, the world's largest landlocked country, has found the Pacific Ocean estuary in Lianyungang, China. The logistics cooperation base, jointly built by China and Kazakhstan, has become an international economic platform for transit transportation, warehousing and logistics for many countries in Central Asia. After Chinese companies participated in the port of Piraeus, Greece, the global container throughput of the port jumped from the world rank of 93rd in 2010 to the 36th, making it one of the fastest growing container ports in the world. China is to promote further development of a new type of strategic partnership mainly featured by political equality, mutual trust and win-win cooperation under BRI.
Development must benefit the people's livelihood, and form the endogenous power and hematopoietic function of self-development. Insufficient infrastructure is a major bottleneck restricting the economic and social development of developing countries, including Ghana. As an old Chinese saying goes, it is better to teach people to fish than to give people to fish. The Chinese Government strongly supports the “Ghana beyond aid” program and thus it is promoting many benchmark projects in a transparent manner with Ghana and providing financial support through various forms, such as concessional loans.
In essence, this is a positive asset instead of debt that is conducive to improving people's livelihood, expanding employment, and achieving sustainable development.
China will take a series of major reform and opening-up measures and make stronger institutional and structural moves to boost higher quality opening-up.
First, we will expand market access for foreign investment in more areas. China has already adopted a management model based on pre-establishment national treatment and negative list, and will continue to significantly shorten the negative list. We will work for the all-round opening-up of modern services, manufacturing, and agriculture, and will allow the operation of foreign-controlled or wholly foreign-owned businesses in more sectors. We will plan new pilot free trade zones and explore at a faster pace the opening of a free trade port. We will accelerate the adoption of supporting regulations to ensure full implementation of the Foreign Investment Law. We will promote supply-side structural reform through fair competition and open cooperation, and will phase out backward and excessive production capacity in an effective way to improve the quality and efficiency of supply.
Second, we will intensify efforts to enhance international cooperation in intellectual property protection. China will spare no effort to foster a business environment that respects the value of knowledge. We will fully improve the legal framework for protecting intellectual property, step up law enforcement, enhance protection of the lawful rights and interests of foreign intellectual property owners, stop forced technology transfer, improve protection of trade secrets, and crack down hard on violations of intellectual property in accordance with law. China will strengthen cooperation with other countries in intellectual property protection, create an enabling environment for innovation and promote technological exchanges and cooperation with other countries on the basis of market principles and the rule of law.
Third, we will increase the import of goods and services on an even larger scale. We will further lower tariffs and remove various non-tariff barriers and welcome quality products from across the world. We want to import more competitive quality agricultural products, manufactured goods and services to promote balanced trade.
Fourth, we will more effectively engage in international macro-economic policy coordination. China will strengthen macro policy coordination with other major economies and jointly contribute to robust, sustainable, balanced and inclusive global growth. China will not resort to the ‘beggar-thy-neighbour practice’ of RMB devaluation. On the contrary, we will continue to improve the exchange rate regime, see that the market plays a decisive role in resource allocation and keep the RMB exchange rate basically stable at an adaptive and equilibrium level.
China is an active supporter and participant of World Trade Organisation reform and will work with others to develop international economic and trade rules of higher standards.
Fifth, we will work harder to ensure the implementation of opening-up related policies. We are committed to implementing multilateral and bilateral economic and trade agreements reached with other countries. We will strengthen the building of a government based on the rule of law and good faith. A binding mechanism for honouring international agreements will be put in place.
Laws and regulations will be revised and improved in keeping with the need to expand opening-up. We will see that governments at all levels operate in a well-regulated way when it comes to issuing administrative licenses and conducting market oversight. We will overhaul and abolish unjustified regulations, subsidies and practices that impede fair competition and distort the market. We will treat all enterprises and business entities equally, and foster an enabling business environment based on market operation and governed by law.
Ghana and BRI
Ghana signed the agreement on the Belt and Road Initiative when President Nana Akufo-Addo visited China last year. China will work closely with Ghana to take stock of the achievements and draw a blueprint for future cooperation to further enrich BRI cooperation.
The second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation would bring more fresh opportunities for China-Ghana relations. We are ready to work with Ghana to create new cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, and to deliver peace, stability and prosperity to both peoples by promoting friendly relations between the two countries.