On Sept. 7th 2013, during his state visit to Kazakhstan, Mr. Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, proposed in his speech at Nazarbayev University that China and the Central Asian countries build an “economic belt along the Silk Road,” a trans-Eurasian project spanning from the Pacific Ocean to the Baltic Sea. On Oct. 3rd 2013, Xi Jinping proposed a new maritime silk road in his speech at the Indonesia Parliament during his state visit to Indonesia. President Xi Jinping’s proposal of “One Belt and One Road” is the most significant and far-reaching initiative that China has ever put forward. It has aroused a great interest in the international press. To understand this initiative, we need to take a closer look at the world, China and this initiative itself.
The “One Belt and One Road” initiative concerns 65 countries and 4.4 billion people. This is China’s most important and strategic initiative. It has been well thought through by taking account of world’s need, the reality in Asia, and China’s own situation.
In regards to the world’s need, we may consider the global landscape and find three significant features:
The first feature is that the Middle East and North Africa have become the epicenter of turbulence, regional war, conflict and hatred. The Arab Spring of 2010 triggered a major political earthquake in this region. A number of strong men fell down. The Syrian War has lasted for more than three years, with 200,000 dead and millions homeless. This war is still going on. The war between ISIS and anti-ISIS alliances is raging. Some parts of Libya have become the stronghold of ISIS in North Africa. We can’t foresee the end of turbulence in this region, in spite of tireless efforts from the international community to quell the violence.
The second feature is that Europe finds itself in the epicenter of financial crisis. This crisis broke out first in the United States in 2008. A worsening sovereign debt crisis in Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Greece shifted the epicenter of the financial crisis to to Europe. The European Union is still struggling to overcome the consequences of this crisis.
The third feature is that East Asia has become the global growth center. The last three decades witnessed steady and robust growth causing East Asia to become the most dynamic and fastest growing region in the world. Its steady growth is not only important for the whole Asia but also very much needed by the rest of the world.
Moving to Asia, we can see East Asia, with 2.2 billion people, continues to grow steadily. South Asia is catching up and Central Asia is lagging behind currently. However, the economies of these three regions are highly complementary.
The “One Belt and One Road” initiative aims at promoting the development of all these three regions together. If we succeed, it will provide Asia with a powerful engine for further growth. That will be good news not only for Asia, but for the whole world.
Coming to China, we see that it became the second largest economy in the world in 2010. It’s true that Chinese economy is slowing down, but the country managed to achieve a 7.4 percent growth rate in 2014. The target for this year is 7%, more than double the global growth rate. With China’s growing potential, the international community expects China to provide more public goods and services. The “One Belt and One Road” initiative, Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, and Silk Road Fund are precisely the public goods my country is willing to provide for the peace and prosperity of our region.
How must we materialize this initiative? President Xi Jinping proposed three “together’s.” The first “together” is discussing among the parties concerned to identify projects of cooperation for mutual benefit. The second is working together to realize the projects on the basis of common interest. The third is enjoying the benefits together from the fruits of this common endeavor.
The “One Belt and One Road” initiative is inclusive rather than exclusive. The U.S., Europe, Japan and the rest of the world are welcome to join us in this huge undertaking.
The three “together’s” means that China is not looking for unilateral gains, but working for the common prosperity, for China’s development is inseparable from the world; and world’s stability and prosperity are inseparable from China.
We all long for a more peaceful and prosperous world in the 21st century. China is ready to work with all other countries to make our planet a better place to live.