President Xi Jinping of China unveiled a comprehensive eight-point plan on Wednesday designed to cement China's leading role in the ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), emphasising infrastructure expansion, green development, technological innovation, and global cooperation.
Addressing global dignitaries at the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF), Xi outlined the expansive vision to enhance China's multi-modal connectivity networks, reflecting the modern manifestation of the ancient Silk Road.
Multi-Dimensional Connectivity: A New Silk Road
At the heart of this vision lies an intricate web of connectivity. Xi's administration aims to develop a multidimensional Belt and Road connectivity network, reimagining the legendary Silk Road for the 21st century. This includes a speedier development of the China-Europe Railway Express and participation in the trans-Caspian international transportation corridor. Additionally, an ambitious logistics corridor will bridge the vast Eurasian continent through direct railway and road transportation.
In a bid to integrate maritime routes, China will bolster ports, shipping, and trading under the 'Silk Road Maritime' banner, simultaneously promoting the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor and the Air Silk Road.
Trade and Open Economy
China's commitment to an open global economy remains evident. With an estimated trade in goods and services projected to reach a staggering $32 trillion and $5 trillion respectively between 2024-2028, Xi highlighted plans to establish Silk Road e-commerce pilot zones. He also proposed expanding free trade agreements and investment protection treaties with more nations, a move likely to solidify China's economic influence further.
Green Development and Technological Innovations
In alignment with global sustainability trends, China is taking leaps in promoting green infrastructure, energy, and transportation. The BRI International Green Development Coalition will gain momentum, and the country will further adopt Green Investment Principles for the Belt and Road.
Notably, Xi underscored the importance of technological advancements, with the announcement of the Global Initiative for Artificial Intelligence (AI) Governance. This signifies China's intent to lead AI development dialogues and collaborations globally.
People, Culture, and Integrity
Xi’s blueprint also seeks to foster deeper cultural ties with BRI partners. By hosting forums, festivals, and establishing new alliances, like the International Tourism Alliance of Silk Road Cities, China aims to facilitate significant people-to-people exchanges.
Emphasising the value of integrity, China, alongside its partners, is set to release tools and principles to ensure transparency and trustworthiness within the Belt and Road cooperation framework.
A Nod from the Global Community
Highlighting the significance of the BRI, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres praised its potential contribution to global infrastructure. "Together, with the contribution of the Belt and Road Initiative, we can turn the infrastructure emergency to infrastructure opportunity," Guterres remarked.
China's announcement cements the country's commitment to forging strong, collaborative, and sustainable partnerships, positioning the Belt and Road Initiative as not just an economic venture but a vision of shared growth and mutual prosperity. As the plan unfolds, the world watches with anticipation, seeing in the BRI a potential paradigm shift in global development.
Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, during his official visit to China for the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, emphasised the BRI's pivotal role in globally connecting countries and benefiting humanity through infrastructure, trade, cultural exchanges, and more. Highlighting President Xi Jinping's commitment to peaceful development, Srettha expressed Thailand's eagerness to attract Chinese investors, particularly in the electric vehicle and agriculture sectors, underscoring the potential for increased durian exports to China. Srettha's visit, his first outside the ASEAN since taking office, reaffirms the deep-rooted ties between Thailand and China, as he envisions greater bilateral cooperation in future BRI projects.
President Xi also had one on one meetings with several world leaders during the summit, including presidents, of Russia, Argentina, Hungary, Chile, Kenya, Nigeria and other leaders of Brics and the Global South.