BRI — Connecting the world economies | Pakistan Today

BRI — Connecting the world economies

  • Understanding the game-changer

Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the multi-billion-dollar idea, has been making waves in across the globe since it’s launching by Chinese visionary President Xi Jinping back in 2013 with the aim to link Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea routes for common trade and shared benefits.

However, the world would never be able to understand the prodigy behind the move as every country and every organisation wants to see the initiative under their own biased and faulty prism. I was too confused to understand why and how the world can come out with so much divergent opinions over an economic initiative aiming at shared benefits for entire world.

However, I only could understand the acumen behind the move till I had an opportunity to visit China and meet with the Chinese scholars and officials of Communist Party of China (CPC) and hear from the vision behind the project right from the horses’ mouth.

Till date, 130 countries or international organisations have either signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) or have expressed interest in joining the BRI which an open-ended and inclusive initiative.

There are many opportunities under the BRI. CPEC, being the pilot project of BRI, is a test case for both Pakistan and China.

We know that Pakistan is a linchpin in the BRI. China has made $60 billion Foreign Direct Investment to the BRI countries out of which over 20 percent — $ 19 billion — has been invested only in Pakistan. Out of total 200,000 jobs created across the BRI countries, Pakistan has got the biggest share as 75,000 jobs were created only in Pakistan — thus making Pakistan the biggest destination overseas for Chinese investment.

One thing is clear that BRI is not a geopolitical or a military alliance and rather it is purely an economic initiative aimed at laying a network of connectivity for trade, economic and culture cooperation and exchanges.

One thing is clear that BRI is not a geopolitical or a military alliance and rather it is purely an economic initiative aimed at laying a network of connectivity for trade, economic and culture cooperation and exchanges

I was invited to attend the 9th 10+3 Media Cooperation Forum at Boao, one of the best Islands in China’s city Haiku, Hainan Province. After around a 24-hour-long journey, I reached the pretty Island and was shocked to see how China had prospered over a period of only forty years. The infrastructure and services were marvelously immaculate while the landscape was mesmerising too.

Next morning, we attended 9th 10+3 Media Cooperation Forum was hosted by Peoples’ Daily at State Guest House, Boao. Theme of the event was “Working Together for Win-Win Cooperation in East Asia”. Speeches were delivered by Mr Fang Jiangshan, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Peoples’ Daily, Mr Lee Jong-heon, Secretary-General, Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat, Mr Ng Yat Chung, Chief Executive Officer, Singapore Press Holdings Ltd, Mr Son Hyun-duck, Senior Managing Director, Maeil Business Newspaper, Ms Rohana Mustafa, Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Malaysian National News Agency, Mr Kenji Hattori, President Jiji Research Institute, and Mr Qiao Yongqing, Secretary-General Peoples’ Daily.

In the evening, we attended the orientation session for Asian Media Workshop where Ms Yue Yanghua, the Deputy Director-General of International Department of the Central Committee of the CPC (IDCPC) and Ms Fu Zimei, Director-General of the Foreign Exchange and Cooperation Department of People’s Daily briefed on the BRI, party discipline and anticorruption campaign in the country.

In the afternoon, a high-level meeting was arranged with Mr Qian Hingshan, Vice Minister, International Department of the Central Committee of the CPC and Mr Fang Jiangshan, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Peoples’ Daily. This was followed by an ice-breaking session.

On October 30, over 200 participants from the BRI countries attended the 2018 Media Cooperation Forum on BRI at BFA International Convention Center, Boao. President of People’s Daily Mr Li Baoshan addressed the participants and gave an overview of the Media Cooperation Forum. The participants spoke over the BRI and highlighted how the initiative could benefit the countries from across the globe.

Later, the delegates were briefed on China’s phenomenal success in the field of Artificial Intelligence and Smart Media. Mr Lu Xinning, Deputy Editor-in-Chief, People’s Daily gave opening remarks. Keynote speeches and roundtable conferences followed the session. The participants also visited Hainan Boao Lecheng International Medical Tourism Pilot Zone. The participants were surprised to see modern industrial complexes with hi-tech and state-of-the-art technology.

Later, the delegation arrived in Beijing for meeting top notch officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, IDCPC and China Railway.

On November 2, the delegation met with state leader, Huang Kun Ming, Member of Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, Minister of the central propaganda department at the Great Hall of the Peoples. The minister exchanged views with the delegates on their experience in China.

In the afternoon, the participants attended a seminar on “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese

Characteristics for a New Era” by Professor Jui from Party School of CPC at People’s Daily. The participants were briefed about how Xi’s thought was incorporated in the Constitution at the 19th National Congress last year.

Next morning, the participants attended the inaugural ceremony of 2018 Media Program for Belt & Road Countries at Tsinghua University. Vice President Tsinghua University, Mr Yang Bin and Ms Fu Zimei of People’s Daily attended the opening ceremony of the program and delivered welcome speeches. Mr Wang Jingwei, Assistant Dean of Tsinghua University PBCSF hosted the ceremony.

On behalf of Tsinghua University, Mr Yang Bin extended a heartfelt welcome and congratulations to the participants of the Program. Yang Bin explained the reasons for Tsinghua University and People’s Daily to host the program.

In the afternoon, an exhibition was arranged for the delegates on 40 years of China’s Reform and Opening-up. The participants were thoroughly briefed by Mr Li Jinliangments of Tsinghua University on the reforms and opening up process China adopted under the visionary party general secretary, Deng Xiaoping. The delegates also had a campus tour and were happy to see the future leaders of world involved in innovative discourse.

On Sunday morning, the delegates attended a seminar on China’s Foreign Policy at PBC School of Finance by Dr Jin Canrong. The lecture covered One China Policy, Modernisation and Political Stability in China. Dr Jin said that China believed in five principles of peaceful coexistence, non-interference, international justice, and China’s independence.

In the afternoon, the delegates visited China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) where a detailed discourse was held on how China had lifted over 800 million people out of poverty.

Mr Zeng, Deputy Director-General of General Office gave the briefing and covered steps taken by Chinese government to involve the people below poverty line in business learning by providing them employment opportunities in financial markets and housing facilities. Mr You Guangbin, the DG of general office was also present.

Next day, Professor Zhou Hao gave a lecture on China’s Reform Perspective on Macro Economy and Financial Policy.  He also delved on China’s successful anticorruption campaign and gave an overview on its negative and positive impact on China’s economic boom.

The following day, the delegation visited the International Department of CPC and met senior leaders there. Ms Yue Yanghua, the DDG of IDCPC and Mr Wang Liyong, DG of Modern World Research Center briefed the participants on China’s strategy to support the BRI under its globalisation initiative. The CPC luminaries also gave an overview how China and Pakistan were working together to make China, Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) a success so as it could further support the BRI.

The delegates had another happy experience to travel through China’s High Speed Railway to Tanshan District. The participants were shocked to note that the high speed train was moving at a speed of 304 kilometers per hour but not a drop of water fell down from a glass of water put on a table. This reflects how much China Railway has developed.

On November 6, the delegates visit the headquarters if China (Railway) Corporation Limited (CRRC) in Tangshan City. The delegation was given an overview of the company’s portfolio and its operations in across the globe.

The delegates visited a poverty relief project in Cui Mazhuang village, Tangshan city where poor families were being looked after by the CRRC and CPC jointly. Mr Zhang Yi, the deputy section chief of Coordination Bureau, briefed the delegates about the relief program.

Later, the delegates returned to Beijing through the high speed railway and were overjoyed over the informatory trip.

Next was a seminar on Chinese Culture and Cross-culture Communication by Professor Peng Kaipin. In the afternoon, the delegates visited Confucius Institute Headquarters where a detailed interaction was held with professors over the learning programs and scholarships offered by the Institute. It was informed that 525 Confucius Institutes (CI) and 1113 Classrooms have been established in 146 countries around the world. In Pakistan only, four Confucius Institutes and two Classrooms are working.

On November 8, a seminar on National Strategy under New Silk Road Economic Belt was addressed by Professor He Maochun. In the evening, the representatives of the Silk Road Fund and Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) gave briefings.

Ms Laurel Ostfield, the head of Communications and Development at AIIB briefed the delegates that the bank desired to bring countries together to address  Asia’s daunting infrastructure funding gap estimated at $ 26 trillion through 2030. She also gave an overview of  the establishment of the AIIB, its operational projects, and future plans.

She said that AIIB intends to improve economic and social development in Asia and beyond through a focus on sustainable infrastructure, cross-border connectivity and private capital mobilization. The bank has gained the strong support from diversified global shareholder base having $ 100 billion capital stock with 20pc assigned to paid-in capital, she added. She briefed that there are top five share holders of the bank i.e. China, India, Russia, Germany and Korea who have added capital contributions of 30.69 pc, 8.69pc, 6.79 pc, 4.66 pc and 3.88 pc respectively.

The participants later gathered at Ant Financial headquarters where after a briefing by Mr Li Shen about the operations of the financial organisation. Later, Mr Li Yuanzhen, Associate Director, Center of Finance and Ms Cai Kan, Associate Director addressed the graduation ceremony of the learning program.

Ms Xu Bo, DDG of External Relations Department, People’s Daily gave away certificates to the delegates. Next morning, the closing ceremony was hosted at the People’s Daily headquarters where Ms Yue Yanghua of IDCPC and Ms Xu Bo addressed.

I would like to give my special thanks to the management of IDCPC, Tsinghua University and People’s Daily for making our trip a comfortable and happy endeavour. Special thanks to Mr Fang Jiangshan, Deputy Director-in-Chief of People’s Daily, Mr Zhang Yi and Mr Guo Jian from IDCPC, Mr Zhang Pei, Chief of International Cooperation Division, External Relations Department and Mr Philip Zhou of People’s Daily for their continued support and guidance throughout the visit.

I would never forget the continued support and assistance of Ms Liyan Niu, Program Manager and Ms Jade Zhang, Program Coordinator and Program Guide/Interpreter Ms Ophelia who worked days in and days out to make the participants feel at home.