Silk Road forum touts potential benefits of BRI

More than 300 scholars, government officials and international organization representatives from home and abroad shared their views and latest research on the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road at a forum in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, over the weekend.

With the theme 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and High Quality Development, the Fourth International Think Tank of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road 2019 forum was organized by the Guangdong Institute for International Strategies, the International Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Guangdong University of Foreign Studies.

Pornchai Danvivathana, secretary-general of the 35-member Asia Cooperation Dialogue, said the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road coincides with one of the organization’s priorities in the next few years – maritime cooperation.

“Asia is becoming more and more the center of global prosperity every single year,” he said. “Thanks to the power of connectivity and trade liberalization, Asia is truly integrating like never before. With the new Maritime Silk Road, the Asian Century could be within reach and materialize for the benefit of Asia.”

Subramanian Swamy, former chairman of the Strategy Action Committee of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, said he is confident India will participate in China’s Belt and Road Initiative in the near future.

The initiative “is a great concept and will benefit Asian nations tremendously in terms of connectivity, trade and infrastructure”, he said.

The official document on the initiative “emphasizes the need on traditional trade, infrastructure, cultural links, opportunities for regional cooperation and on the principle of win-win cooperation”, he said, adding India’s presence is important because it would advance President Xi Jinping’s goal of making “Asia for Asians”.

With migration featuring prominently in the United Nations’ 2030 sustainable development goals, the BRI has the potential to act as an accelerator for achieving the goals in the initiative’s participating countries, including “facilitating orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people”, said Giuseppe Crocetti, chief of mission in the People’s Republic of China under the International Organization for Migration.

The initiative “already foresees a solid platform of international people-to-people cooperation as part of its vision to build a community sharing a common future, a community achieved by creating opportunities for development and shared prosperity amongst neighboring countries”, he said.

Aid provided to developing countries can play a significant role in development if used for tackling bottleneck problems, said Justin Yifu Lin, former World Bank chief economist and dean of the Institute of New Structural Economics at Peking University.

A severe lack of infrastructure is a major concern, and the BRI hopes to promote prosperity based on infrastructural connectivity, he said.

The BRI, which features high quality development, is associated with profound changes unseen in the world in a century, said Zhang Yuyan, director of the Institute of World Economics and Politics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The initiative provides an important opportunity for consolidating and utilizing existing technologies and innovation, based on the development levels of participating countries, to seek common development, he said.

He suggested that while using the US dollar platform, a platform of other currencies should be jointly built to offset risks of currency sanctions and reduce transaction costs.

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