Gwadar Port. (Photo by Meng Xianglin from People’s Daily)
Six years ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the building of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road during his visits to Kazakhstan and Indonesia respectively.
Now, continuously enlarging the “circle of friends”, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has transited from making high-level plans to intensive and meticulous implementation. Bringing tangible benefits to countries and people along the route, the China-proposed initiative is delivering its outcomes to the world.
Nursultan Nazarbayev, the first President of Kazakhstan – a pioneer region of the BRI, hailed the China-proposed initiative as “a very great idea that has a perspective”.
Currently, there are 6 railways and 11 highways passing through the landlocked country within the BRI framework, said the president, a designated logistics base in China’s portal city of Lianyungang is connecting the landlocked country to the Pacific Ocean through freight trains.
In 2018, almost 14 million tons of cargos were transported between China and Kazakhstan, up 38 percent year over year.
Last March, Italy signed a memorandum of understanding with China to jointly advance the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative. This made Italy the first G7 nation to officially join the BRI.
Then Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said that the Belt and Road cooperation provided Italy more opportunities including enhanced economic and trade exchanges with other countries.
In Djibouti, the coastal and inland area are now connected by modern electrified railways, containers are piled up at the multi-purpose port, roads are getting wider, and local people have access to clean tap water.
“Thank China for assisting our infrastructure construction,” said Aboubaker Omar Hadi, chairman of Djibouti Ports and Free Zone Authority.
The China-built railways have greatly bolstered the country’s exchanges with the rest of the world, and substantially cut the freight costs by using clean energies, he added.
In the Western Hemisphere, Jamaica built its first-ever modern highway with the assistance from China, shortening the travel time between the south and north coasts from two hours to 45 minutes. The Belgrano freight railway reconstruction project in Argentina, which was undertaken by a Chinese enterprise, has greatly reduced the logistics costs between inland provinces and coastal cities and provided means for high-quality products in north Argentina to be exported overseas.
To date, China has signed Belt and Road cooperation agreements with 19 Latin American and Caribbean countries. More than 2,000 Chinese enterprises have registered or invested in these countries, creating at least 1.8 million jobs for local communities.
Indonesian restaurant owner Marta feels a strong sense of gain as his business expanded tenfold within four years thanks to the construction of an industrial park funded by Chinese steelmaker Tsingshan.
In Mon State of Myanmar, refrigerators and TV sets are now accessible to people living in villages after a Chinese-aided power plant was established and north-to-south power transmission channel were built.
In June 2019, a medical team from China arrived in Ulan Bator, capital of Mongolia, in a project called “The Belt and Road (B&R)-Brightness Trip”. The team conducted 95 free surgeries to Mongolian cataract patients. “The Chinese doctors recovered my sight and give me a second life,” a local patient said excitedly with tears when the gauze was taken off.
Irina Bokova, former Director-General of UNESCO, said that the Belt and Road construction will help realize the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the United Nations (UN), and tap people’s potential for innovation.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said the BRI is improving the economic development pattern of the world through cooperation, and creating an important pathway for the healthy development of economic globalization.
The BRI is at a new start. The high-quality development of the BRI will gather more strength to promote people’s wellbeing of all countries and contribute to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.
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