The 11th issue of Qizhi in 2021 published an article entitled The Belt and Road Initiative Leads Global Sustainable Development by Luo Zhaohui, Leading Party Group Secretary and Chairman of the China International Development Cooperation Agency. The full text of the article is presented below:
Since the 18th CPC National Congress, General Secretary Xi Jinping has correctly judged that "the world is undergoing changes previously not witnessed in any century". He proposed the concept of "building a community with a shared future for mankind" and the "Belt and Road" (B&R) Initiative to scientifically answer the contemporary question of how the world should face the major changes unseen in over a century. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage, global economic recovery is fragile and the gap between the rich and poor demographic groups continues to widen. Also, the world faces major sustainable development challenges along with a resurgence in pseudo-multilateralism and Cold War mentality. In this context, countries need to work together more than ever to overcome difficulties.
In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, urging all countries to take action to advance the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. This grand plan focuses on the future of mankind and the planet as well as common development and prosperity.
The concept of "building a community with a shared future for mankind" and the "Belt and Road" Initiative are Chinese approaches to achieve global sustainable development and common prosperity and make important public contribution to the world. The "Belt and Road" Initiative covers land and sea, spans east and west, connects ancient and modern times, and delivers far-reaching benefits. It has the same complementary purpose, philosophy and path as the global Sustainable Development Goals. So far, more than 140 countries and 30 international organizations have signed cooperation documents with China under the "Belt and Road" Initiative.
At the same time, against the backdrop of the pandemic, there is an increasing attempt to discredit or question the Initiative and global sustainable development. As part of this opposition, theories of "pollution", "pessimism" and "disconnection" are constantly emerging.
The Mushroom Technology Demonstration Center in Fiji was built with assistance from China
China has continued to develop strategies to synergize the "Belt and Road" Initiative with the United Nations' 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The "Belt and Road" initiative attaches great importance to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. China was the first country to release a national plan and a progress report on the implementation of the Agenda in which it has been striving to promote high-quality economic and social development. Historically, China has solved the problem of absolute poverty and achieved the poverty alleviation target of the 2030 Agenda 10 years ahead of schedule. Also, China put forward the Global Development Initiative and formulated the 14th Five-Year Plan and the Vision 2035 in line with the 2030 Agenda. China was the first nation to ratify the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and is applying to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The "Belt and Road" Initiative has promoted economic prosperity and injected a strong impetus for the successful realization of sustainable development. So far, under the Initiative, a large number of highway, railway, airport and port projects have been carried out in the participating countries. Important progress has been made in building "six corridors, six connectivity routes and multiple countries and ports", and the formation of a multi-dimensional infrastructure network has been accelerated. According to the World Bank report, the "Belt and Road" Initiative will increase the value of global trade by 6.2% and global income by 2.9% to deliver a major boost to global economic growth.
The "Belt and Road" Initiative has improved the people's livelihood in several countries and provided a strong guarantee for sustainable development. Currently, there are 82 Economic and Trade Cooperation Zones under the Initiative that have created around 300,000 local jobs. During the construction of the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway in Kenya, more than 300 local enterprises were involved with local employees accounting for more than 90% of the workforce. The Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka saw a year-on-year increase in the volume of freight traffic of more than 180% in the first half of 2021. Also, a large number of livelihood assistance projects including housing, water supply, medical care and education, have been implemented in B&R countries.
The "Belt and Road" Initiative stresses the continuous pursuit of green development. China has signed documents on the Green Belt and Road Initiative with the United Nations Environment Programme. It has issued relevant standards on green product certification and green infrastructure construction. Besides, it has successively issued the Guidance on Promoting Green Belt and Road, Belt and Road Ecological and Environmental Cooperation Plan, and Green Investment Principles for the Belt and Road. China has launched a green supply chain platform for the "Belt and Road" and promoted the establishment of the Belt and Road International Alliance for Green Development. General Secretary Xi Jinping recently announced that China would not carry out new overseas coal power projects. During the construction of the Karachi-Lahore Motorway in Pakistan by China, nearly 300,000 trees and more than 5 million square meters of grass were planted along the line, making it the only green motorway in Pakistan. During the construction of the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway, 14 large animal passages, 61 bridges and more than 600 culverts were set up along the line to ensure the free movement of animals.
No country has fallen into a debt crisis as a result of its participation in the "Belt and Road" Initiative. Debt sustainability is of major importance to China. In 2017, China signed the Guiding Principles on Financing the Development of the Belt and Road with 26 B&R countries. In 2019, China issued the Debt Sustainability Framework for Participating Countries of the Belt and Road Initiative to improve the level of debt risk management and increase economic benefits from construction projects. Sri Lanka's debt owed to China accounts for only 12% of its total national external debt, mostly in the form of low-interest concessional loans. Only 20% of the fund for the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is from debt financing. Last year, China actively responded to the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative. Its debt service suspension exceeded USD 1.3 billion or accounted for nearly 30% of the G20 total debt service suspension, making China the largest contributor among G20 countries.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, China has forged ahead and advanced the "Belt and Road" Initiative with unrelenting efforts, unchanged policies and fruitful outcomes to deliver new contributions to global sustainable development.
In terms of infrastructure connectivity, landmark projects have proceeded. Since 2020, breakthroughs have been made in more than 40 major B&R projects, including the China-Laos Railway, the Budapest-Belgrade Railway and the Israeli Light Rail. These projects have involved infrastructure, energy, digital technology, medical care and public health. In 2020, the annual operating number and cargo volume of China-Europe freight trains increased by 50% and 56% respectively to hit a new high.
Also, trade and investment both continued to grow. China's non-financial direct investment in other B&R countries reached USD 17.8 billion, up 18.3% on a year-on-year basis. China's newly-signed contracted projects were valued at USD 141.46 billion in total, with a turnover of USD 91.12 billion. The total value of China's import and export trade with its B&R partners reached USD 9.37 trillion, up 1% on a year-on-year basis, including a 7% increase in those with the ten ASEAN countries.
The emerging digital and intelligent businesses continued to expand. China has signed MOUs with 16 countries on digital economy cooperation and worked with 22 partner countries to build the "Silk Road E-commerce" platform to facilitate unimpeded trade against the backdrop of the pandemic. At the end of last year, the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and others sold Rwandan coffee beans via live streaming and attracted more than 10 million online viewers. The coffee beans were snapped up by Chinese netizen and the sales were equivalent to Rwanda's total coffee bean sales in 2019.
In terms of capital financing, mutually beneficial cooperation continued to grow. So far, 29 countries have approved the Guiding Principles on Financing the Development of the Belt and Road. The Silk Road Fund has signed 10 new projects with a newly committed investment amount of USD 800 million and RMB 11.4 billion. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has established a COVID-19 contingency fund with a total amount of USD 13 billion and over 30 projects. RMB internationalization has advanced, with cross-border receipts and disbursements in the first three quarters of 2020 exceeding those in the full year of 2019 to reach more than RMB 20 trillion.
In the face of the pandemic, we have put into practice the idea that the human community shares a common future. Specifically, we have carried out the longest and most extensive emergency humanitarian aid operation since the founding of the People's Republic of China. Our strong initiatives and desire to lead international cooperation against the COVID-19 have won popular support. Last year, China provided 150 countries and 13 international organizations with a large number of pandemic prevention materials such as masks, protective clothing and respirators, and sent 37 groups of medical experts to 34 countries. This year, China has provided 1.9 billion doses of vaccines to more than 100 countries and international organizations, ranking No. 1 in the world. Moreover, China has launched the "Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on COVID-19 Vaccine Cooperation" with 30 countries.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC). At the end of May this year, the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee held a group study activity, calling for the dissemination of positive Chinese stories. To this end, the Leading Party Group of the China International Development Cooperation Agency has made great efforts to design a series of commemorative activities. These events have leveraged the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of China's foreign assistance to share the related history and CPC's efforts and achievements, and to highlight the Party's original aspiration and mission. We commemorated the 20th Anniversary of Juncao Assistance, promoting the influential foreign aid brand sand highlighting the significant contribution made by General Secretary Xi Jinping to this end. We commemorated the 5th anniversary of the South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund (SSCAF) and the Institute of South-South Cooperation and Development (ISSCAD) with focusing on the multilateral cooperation on foreign aid to highlight the transformation of China's foreign aid into international development cooperation.
For more than 70 years, China's foreign aid has ranged from Asia to Africa, and from Latin America to the South Pacific. Roads, railroads, schools and hospitals, cementing Chinese people's friendship, are built on boundless love and grace, witnessing the splendor of the CPC for a century. We have provided various types of assistance to more than 160 developing countries, including thousands of complete projects and material assistance projects and tens of thousands of partnership projects on technologies and human resources development. We have also trained more than 400,000 personnel from other developing countries. Roses given, fragrance in hands. As a result of China's unconditional assistance, China has won friendship and support from the majority of recipient countries and people. The restoration of the PRC's lawful seat at the United Nations in 1971 with the help of other developing countries is strong evidence of the "fragrance in hands". This year, at the UN Human Rights Council, more than 90 countries were firmly in support of China despite opposition from countries on issues such as Hong Kong, Xinjiang and human rights.
Juncao technology is a successful Chinese invention that applies the experience of poverty reduction and poverty eradication to the practice of global sustainable development. Twenty years ago, Comrade Xi Jinping, then Governor of Fujian Province, gave important instructions and personally managed to implement Juncao technology in Papua New Guinea for the first time as an official aid project. Since then, Juncao, with great friendship of the Chinese people, has functioned worldwide for the benefit of humanity. In the past 20 years, China has held 270 international training programs on Juncao technology, educating more than 10,000 participants from 106 countries. Juncao, which is "economical, effective, and beneficial to people's livelihood", has been promoted in more than 100 countries with hundreds of thousands of new green job opportunities created locally.
In 2015, General Secretary Xi Jinping announced the establishment of the South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund and the Institute of South-South Cooperation and Development, which started operations the following year. Over the past five years, the South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund has had close partnerships with more than a dozen international organizations including the United Nations. As a result, more than 100 livelihood projects have been implemented in more than 50 countries, benefiting more than 20 million people. More than 200 Masters and Doctoral students from nearly 60 countries have been enrolled by the Institute of South-South Cooperation and Development. The Fund and the Institute are important public products of China's commitment to the cause of South-South cooperation; important international brands for developing countries to promote South-South cooperation and sustainable development; and important steps to bring China's foreign aid in line with international standards and accelerate its transition to international development cooperation.
General Secretary Xi Jinping sent congratulatory letters for the two commemorative events of the Juncao and South-South cooperation, indicating China's high regard and commitment to promoting the implementation of the UN's Agenda for Sustainable Development. Also, the international community, including the United Nations and relevant national governments, civil society, and the media, were participants in these activities.
Advancing the co-construction under the "Belt and Road" Initiative is an important element of China's international development cooperation. And similarly, helping other developing countries to implement the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is an important direction thereof.
In the next step, China's international development cooperation will continue to tilt towards other B&R countries, to provide stronger momentum, more space and better paths for cooperation and make the Initiative an important "enabler" for sustainable development worldwide.
Firstly, China shall be a pioneer for health. To this end, China will invest primarily in the global fight against COVID-19 by providing more than 2 billion doses of vaccines worldwide during the year, voluntarily donating 100 million doses of vaccines to other developing countries, supporting and donating USD 100 million to COVAX. China will enhance global public health cooperation to create a Silk Road of health.
Secondly, China shall be a driver for recovery. To this end, China will help other developing countries to recover their economies and achieve sustainable development through measures such as debt relief and aid. China will also provide USD 3 billion to support other developing countries in the next three years. Adhering to inclusive and innovation-driven development, China will follow the trend of the fourth industrial revolution and take advantage of new development opportunities of digitization, networking and AI to help build a Silk Road of innovation.
Thirdly, China shall be a forerunner for green development. To this end, China will actively take up its international responsibility to cope with climate change. It will attach importance to the implementation of assistance projects on climate change, clean energy and ecological protection. It will actively share its experience in green development, help other developing countries to level up the green development, and co-build a greener Silk Road.
Fourthly, China shall be a provider of happiness. To this end, China will increase its investment in the livelihoods and communities of recipient countries, especially in poverty reduction, hunger eradication, employment, education and other urgent affairs of the people. China will implement more economical and effective livelihood projects, focusing on "teaching people to fish", and sharing Chinese experience in governance.
(Reprinted from Magazine Qizhi)