By Liu Jianxi
A joint communiqué was issued by the Leaders Roundtable of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on Monday. While China’s proposals have received extensive support, a few EU member states refused to endorse part of another trade statement that China suggested, citing a lack of commitment to transparency and environmental sustainability as reasons.
The Belt and Road Forum is just the beginning of infrastructural cooperation between China and countries along the Belt and Road (B&R) route, and it is unrealistic to have every detail thought of in every single document.
Beijing advocates equality, transparency, international norms and market rules in international cooperation. “We reiterate the importance of expanding economic growth, trade and investment based on level-playing field, on market rules and on universally recognized international norms … We uphold the spirit of peace, cooperation, openness, transparency, inclusiveness, equality, mutual learning, mutual benefit and mutual respect by strengthening cooperation on the basis of extensive consultation and the rule of law, joint efforts, shared benefits and equal opportunities for all,” said the forum’s joint communiqué.
China issued the Initiative on Promoting Unimpeded Trade Cooperation along the Belt and Road with more than 60 countries and international organizations.
The support the B&R initiative has received demonstrates that it has taken into account the concerns and interests of countries along the route. Admittedly, the initiative may face some challenges in implementation, but the Chinese government has the capability and wisdom to find solutions.
Belt and Road-related institutions are expected to be established to address any potential problems.
A few EU countries’ suspicions of China’s infrastructural initiative are worth attention. They always link the initiative to Beijing’s efforts to promote China’s development model, fearing that the B&R may jeopardize Western-dominated rules. Chinese President Xi Jinping has reiterated that “we have no intention to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs, export our own social system and model of development, or impose our own will on others.”
Frankly speaking, Western-dominated orders have created a lot of problems for the fair distribution of wealth in the world.
Development is key for emerging countries. Therefore, rule-making has to cater to the needs of developing countries, and be adjusted for global economic prosperity.
Indeed, basic rules are needed in international cooperation, but the development of emerging economies, and especially that of less developed countries, cannot be sacrificed for so-called principles. We must find a way which could improve development effectively while at the same time making the development green and sustainable.