China: The “Belt and Road” initiative
BEIJING- As China strives to achieve more regional cooperation, its “Belt and Road” initiative will not only drive domestic development but will also influence its foreign policy.
The Silk Road Economic Belt is slated to be established along the ancient Silk Road trade route — which stretched northwest from China’s coastal area through Central Asia, the Middle East and on to Europe — while the maritime Silk Road will run through the country’s southern part to Southeast Asia.
Under the initiative, more highways, railways and air routes will be established, and Chinese regions will further integrate resources, policies and markets to connect with the outside world.
The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road were put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his overseas visits in 2013.
In November 2014, Xi announced that China will push forward with the initiative and strengthen cooperation with those countries involved.
When visiting Mongolia in August 2014, he said that China invited its neighbors to get on board and ride China’s development.
As China promotes the Belt and Road initiative abroad, it is also driving change back home. In an economic work conference held in December 2014, it was listed as one of the priority tasks for 2015. And in recent days, the initiative has been lauded by people’s congress sessions across the country.
A total of 20 provincial regions have made their development blueprints based on the Belt and Road initiative.
Observers believe that the initiative can further integrate China, allowing more parts of the country to enjoy the benefits of its opening-up policy.
But the significance of the Belt and Road initiative lies in its potential to integrate domestic and regional development, bringing a more pragmatic approach to China’s foreign policy.
Along the belt and road are many developing countries, with a combined population of 4.4 billion and an annual economic output of 2.2 trillion U.S. dollars.
China has strengthened cooperation with neighboring countries in the fields of energy, transportation and trade. China’s import of products and services improves the economy its neighbors and bolsters its own sluggish economy.
The initiative will become a major part of its foreign policies, resulting in a more favorable and mutual-beneficial regional environment.
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