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China Launches “Belt and Road” Initiative

Authorised by the State Council, the Vision and Actions on Jointly Building Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road has been jointly issued by the National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Commerce, which fleshed out the “Belt and Road” initiative in terms of background, principles, framework, cooperation priorities and cooperation mechanisms.

The Silk Road Economic Belt focuses on bringing together China, Central Asia, Russia and Europe (the Baltic); linking China with the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea through Central Asia and West Asia; and connecting China with Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Indian Ocean. The 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road is designed to go from China's coast to Europe through the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean in one route, and from China's coast through the South China Sea to the South Pacific in the other.

On land, the initiative will focus on jointly building a new Eurasian Land Bridge and developing China-Mongolia-Russia, China-Central Asia-West Asia and China-Indochina Peninsula economic corridors by taking advantage of international transport routes. At sea, the initiative will focus on jointly building smooth, secure and efficient transport routes connecting major sea ports along the Belt and Road. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor are closely related to the Belt and Road initiative, and therefore require closer cooperation and greater progress.

With regard to transport, priority is given to linking up unconnected road sections, removing transport bottlenecks. In the connectivity of energy infrastructure, cross-border power supply networks and power-transmission routes are built and cooperation in regional power grid upgrading and transformation are developed. The construction of cross-border optical cables and other communications trunk line networks are jointly advanced and an Information Silk Road is created. Transcontinental submarine optical cable projects are planned.

China strives to improve investment and trade facilitation, and remove investment and trade barriers; speed up establishing a "single-window" in border ports, reduce customs clearance costs, and improve customs clearance capability; explore new growth areas of trade, and promote trade balance; and expand mutual investment areas. China welcomes foreign companies to invest in China, encourage domestic enterprises to participate in infrastructure construction and industrial investment in countries along the belt and road.

The initiative will expand the scope and scale of bilateral currency swap and settlement with other countries along the Belt and Road; make joint efforts to establish the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and BRICS New Development Bank, conduct negotiation among related parties on establishing Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) financing institution, and set up and put into operation the Silk Road Fund as early as possible; support the efforts of governments of the countries along the Belt and Road and their companies and financial institutions with good credit-rating to issue Renminbi bonds in China. Qualified Chinese financial institutions and companies are encouraged to issue bonds in both Renminbi and foreign currencies outside China, and use the funds thus collected in countries along the Belt and Road.

On education and culture, China provides 10,000 government scholarships to countries along the Belt and Road every year, jointly applies for world cultural heritage status and makes it more convenient to apply for tourist visa in countries along the Belt and Road. On health care, improve the ability to jointly address public health emergencies, provide medical aid and emergency medical assistance to the relevant countries and expand cooperation in the field of traditional medicine. On cooperation in science and technology, establish joint laboratories (or research centres), international technology transfer centres and maritime cooperation centres, and work together to improve science and technology innovation capability.

Xinjiang's geographic advantages and its role as a window of westward opening-up will be made good use of, developing it into a core area on the Silk Road Economic Belt. X’ian will be built into a new focus of reform and opening-up in China's interior, speeding up the development and opening-up of cities such as Lanzhou and Xining, and advancing the building of the Ningxia Inland Opening-up Pilot Economic Zone; giving full play to Inner Mongolia's proximity to Mongolia and Russia, improving the railway links connecting Heilongjiang province with Russia and the regional railway network, strengthening cooperation between China's Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning provinces and Russia's Far East region on sea-land multi-modal transport, and advancing the construction of an Eurasian high-speed transport corridor linking Beijing and Moscow with the goal of building key windows opening to the north.

China will give full play to the unique advantage of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region as a neighbour of ASEAN countries, forming an important gateway connecting the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road. It will make good use of the geographic advantage of Yunnan province, advance the construction of an international transport corridor connecting China with neighbouring countries, and make the region a pivot of China's opening-up to South and Southeast Asia. Border trade and tourism and culture cooperation between Tibet Autonomous Region and neighbouring countries such as Nepal are promoted.

The initiative will support Fujian province in becoming a core area of the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road; help to build the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Big Bay Area; leverage the unique role of overseas Chinese and the Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions, and encourage them to participate in and contribute to the Belt and Road initiative; make proper arrangements for the Taiwan region to be part of this effort.

China will build Chongqing into an important pivot for developing and opening up the western region, and make Chengdu, Zhengzhou, Wuhan, Changsha, Nanchang and Hefei leading areas of opening-up in the inland regions; cultivate the brand of "China-Europe freight trains" and construct a cross-border transport corridor connecting the eastern, central and western regions.

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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