Amid global challenges to peace and development, the speech by President Xi Jinping at the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, which was held in Beijing last week, has offered a ray of hope to developing and least-developed countries, with a vision to tackle present and future challenges through the Belt and Road Initiative.
Xi started by emphasizing the importance of connectivity and cooperation. He rejected the ideas of decoupling or bloc politics. He categorically pointed out that decoupling is against the interests of the world, and he emphasized that the world needs to work together to overcome contemporary challenges. Furthermore, he reiterated that the world is a highly connected community, and we must strive to create a community with a shared future for a beautiful and peaceful world.
The eight-point agenda that he put forward for the BRI will pave the way to a prosperous and peaceful world of modernization.
Under the initiative, China will speed up the process to build high-quality connectivity infrastructure. It also will focus on providing a high-quality China-Europe Railway Express and participating in the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route. In addition, the country has hosted the China-Europe Railway Express Cooperation Forum and will invest in building a high-quality logistics corridor in Asia.
President Xi reiterated China's commitment to an open world and open economy. He said in the speech that China will establish numerous Silk Road e-commerce pilot zones to modernize market access, and will also deepen reforms to open up the manufacturing sector. These objectives will be achieved through high-standard opening-up and connectivity.
One major commitment is that the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China will each set up a 350 billion yuan ($47.8 billion) financing window. It is hoped that this will help to create a better business environment at the grassroots level for small communities.
It was also mentioned that China will work on 1,000 small-scale livelihood assistance projects and will increase funding for vocational training through Luban Workshops and other programs. Moreover, the country will inject 80 billion yuan into the Silk Road Fund for BRI projects.
China's commitment to green development meets with the demands of the developing world to achieve the United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. China will be working on multiple tiers to achieve the goal of green development. It will not only promote investment in green infrastructure, clean energy and climate-smart investments, but also will contribute to building the capacity of partner countries.
Xi also said in his speech that China is committed to high-quality cooperation in the fields of science, technology and innovation and will build around 100 joint laboratories with partner countries in the next five years. He added that the nation is fully committed to the Belt and Road Science, Technology and Innovation Cooperation Action Plan and has launched the Global Initiative for Artificial Intelligence Governance for the people-centric use of AI.
The crucial role of people-to-people connections in enhancing cooperation is destined to be enhanced. China has already set up the Silk Road International League of Theaters, the Silk Road International Arts Festival, the International Alliance of Museums of the Silk Road, the Silk Road International Alliance of Art Museums and Galleries, and the Silk Road International Library Alliance.
It also will establish the International Tourism Alliance of Silk Road Cities. This will not only enhance people-to-people connectivity, but it will also create multiple economic and livelihood opportunities. Also welcome is the fact that China will continue the Silk Road program of government-provided scholarships.
With an emphasis on integrity-based cooperation, China will work with partner countries to release the Achievements and Prospects of Belt and Road Integrity Building and the High-Level Principles on Belt and Road Integrity Building. In addition, China will establish the Integrity and Compliance Evaluation System for Companies Involved in Belt and Road Cooperation.
Experts lauded these initiatives, saying that they will help society and will also assist in creating fair markets and tackling poverty and inequality.
China's efforts to institutionalize the work of the BRI will make for lasting global benefits. The nation will establish multilateral institutions in fields including energy, taxation, financing, green development, disaster reduction, anticorruption, think tanks, media and culture.
Xi's vision and points are specific steps that will lead to the sound modernization of the world in a new era. The eight points have all the ingredients required to combat present and future challenges, and are led by the principle of win-win cooperation.
Moreover, China promotes extensive consultation, discussion and country-specific solutions, and the future development of the BRI will revolve around the vision of green and high-quality development.
China will make all efforts to promote green and high-quality development, in which the BRI International Green Development Coalition will play a pivotal role.
The author is CEO of the Asian Institute of Eco-civilization Research and Development in Pakistan.