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BRI will clear doubts as it progresses

(By Pan Yixuan, Adapted from China Daily)

Editor’s Note: Doubts have again been raised over the Belt and Road Initiative’s goals, with some calling it a “debt trap” for participating countries and China’s “geopolitical expansion tool”. Why are anti-China elements using such ploys to malign China? And will they see reason once the Belt and Road Initiative starts yielding fruitful results for the participating countries? Two experts share their views on the issue with China Daily’s Pan Yixuan. Excerpts follow:

BRI’s aim is peaceful development for all

Under the Belt and Road Initiative framework, China wants to share its development experiences with other countries and improve connectivity between Asia and Europe and Africa. China greatly benefited from infrastructure construction, and while sharing this experience with other countries, it aims to work with them to enhance the complementarity between the Belt and Road Initiative and their development plans to strengthen global cooperation.

Many countries that need to build or improve infrastructure networks may not get loans from international financial organizations because of various reasons, including uncertainty of repayment and supposedly poor environmental protection rules. So when China provided such countries with loans-including Pakistan which suffers from electricity shortage owing to the lack of power plants-to help them solve their infrastructure problems, some observers and advanced countries started seeing red.

China’s cooperation with Central and South American countries, Panama for instance-which the United States considers China’s strategy to enter its “backyard”-is a good example of a natural partnership with complementary resources. In such win-win cooperation, China makes the best use of its advantages in infrastructure construction to help its partner countries build the industries needed to better utilize their rich natural resources and, in the process, lays a solid foundation for further cooperation.

Some countries cannot accept the fact that China’s State-owned enterprises account for the majority of Chinese large infrastructure projects overseas and therefore see the Belt and Road Initiative as a challenge to their economic prospects. They keep on alleging that the BRI is a “debt trap” for participating countries so as to force China to lower the proportion of its SOEs’ investment in overseas projects. But despite such claims and counterclaims, the Belt and Road Initiative will gather pace with the passage of time.

China, meanwhile, should increase communication with other countries, and keep explaining to them its goals so they can understand that the BRI’s aim is peaceful development for all.

Wang Yiwei, a professor of international relations at Renmin University of China

Initiative for the benefit of all participating parties

Based on the principle of achieving shared growth through discussions and collaboration, the Belt and Road Initiative is ideal for expanded global cooperation. No wonder the 71st United Nations General Assembly incorporated the Belt and Road Initiative into its resolution in 2016, and the UN Security Council called on all parties to participate in the initiative.

The BRI explores multilateral cooperation, yet some countries doubt its aims and objectives. By boosting development in many places in the past years, the BRI projects have helped dispel fears that the initiative is a “debt trap” for participating countries.

That there is still a lot of room for the BRI to improve goes without saying. So the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation to be held in Beijing later this month should focus on improving BRI projects, including paying greater attention to sustainable development, environmental protection, and better evaluation of and arrangement for future projects.

With BRI projects producing more positive results for the participating countries, the world, including China’s detractors, will better understand that its aim is to build a better platform for multilateral cooperation. True, China proposed the Belt and Road Initiative, but it is for the benefit of all the participating parties, as its objective is to promote co-development.

Shen Dingli, a professor at the Institute of International Studies, Fudan University.

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