The ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative
An opportunity for new development of China-Bahamas cooperation
August 11, 2017
From May 14-15, 2017, China hosted the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) in Beijing successfully. The BRF is the highest level and largest international conference hosted by China since the Belt and Road Initiative was launched in 2013.
More than 1,500 representatives from over 130 countries and 70 international organizations attended the BRF. The active involvement of so many countries in the BRF shows that the international community has great enthusiasm for participation in the Belt and Road Initiative and holds optimistic perspectives of the future of the initiative.
The BRF achieved fruitful results with a list of major deliverables, which includes 76 items comprising more than 270 concrete results in five key areas. It defined the direction of cooperation in the future and charted the roadmap of building.
Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered an important speech in the forum, making a significant contribution to the success of the forum. All parties actively participated in deliberation, carried out project and policy interlinks, and promoted substantial cooperation. The success of the BRF attracted much international attention. The Caribbean, including The Bahamas, also showed its interest in it. I would like to take this opportunity to introduce to the Bahamian friends some basic information about the Belt and Road Initiative.
The Belt and Road Initiative stands for the initiative of jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st century Maritime Silk Road, which was proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in the fall of 2013. The background of the initiative is that world economic growth is sluggish, globalization is facing new difficulties, the reform of the global economic governance system makes slow progress, improvements are needed in the global trade and investment system, some developing countries encounter increasing difficulties in national development.
Confronted with such difficulties and challenges, we recognize that stronger cooperation is the fundamental solution. It is for this reason that China has proposed the Belt and Road Initiative. The Belt and Road Initiative calls for policy coordination, connectivity of infrastructure and facilities, unimpeded trade, financial integration and closer people-to-people ties. In addition to cooperation in such key areas as connectivity, production capacity and trade and investment, cultural and people-to-people exchanges among the B&R countries are also highlighted for the contribution they can make to the prosperity of both economy and culture.
The guiding principles of cooperation include consultation on an equal footing, mutual benefit, harmony and inclusiveness, market-based operation, balance and sustainability, in short, achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration. The priorities of the initiative are boosting infrastructure construction in rail, highway, ports, electricity, information and telecommunication, enhancing trans-national and cross-regional connectivity, docking development strategies, aligning rules and regulations and strengthening personnel exchanges.
Over the past four years, more than 100 countries have expressed their support and willingness to participate in the initiative. China has signed cooperation agreements with over 60 countries and international organizations. International organizations, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, the World Health Organization and the United Nations, give positive responses to the initiative through issuing resolutions or signing agreements of cooperation to support and participate in it.
By integrating the historical symbolism of the ancient Silk Road, the Belt and Road Initiative delivers a Chinese program and proposal whose goals are to maintain an open world economic system; achieve diversified, independent, balanced and sustainable development; advance regional cooperation, strengthen communications between civilizations; and safe-guard world peace and stability. As an international common good, it showcases the fact that China, as the largest developing country and the world’s second-largest economy, shoulders its wider responsibilities in promoting development of world economy and reform in global economic governance, and makes its efforts to build a peaceful and prosperous community with a shared destiny.
The Belt and Road Initiative is open to any country or international organization that has an interest, and all forms of participation and cooperation are welcomed to bring about benefits to more regions and peoples. China welcomes the participation of Latin America and the Caribbean in the Belt and Road Initiative. Latin America and the Caribbean are important emerging markets as well as major trade partners of China. China is committed to coordinating development strategies with countries in these regions, and advancing pragmatic cooperation with them in all fields, including infrastructural construction, production capacity cooperation, cooperation on ecological and environmental protection and cultural and social cooperation etc., and expanding common interests based on the B&R ideas, principles and approaches.
The Bahamas is an important country in the Caribbean, with advantages in the fields of tourism and financial services. The Belt and Road Initiative means an important opportunity to strengthen practical cooperation and the comprehensive relationship between China and The Bahamas.
The Bahamas needs to upgrade its infrastructure. China is willing to support qualified Chinese enterprises to participate in The Bahamas’ major programs of infrastructure construction and encourage them to hire more Bahamian workers, use local materials and establish service bases, hence cementing the foundation for the development of the Bahamian economy.
China’s policy of encouraging financial cooperation is also conducive to the Bahamian financial services sector. China is committed to building a green Silk Road, and is ready to provide energy-efficient, low-carbon and renewable energy materials to The Bahamas; launch cooperation projects on solar energy, wind energy, methane gas, hydroelectric power and clean cooking stoves; organize dialogues and exchanges on environmental protection, and offer training to address climate change.
The Bahamas has rich tourism resources, and China is a huge potential market. There is huge potential in tourism cooperation between China and The Bahamas. The Bahamian government and tourism enterprises should strengthen tourism resources and products promotion in China, introduce more tourism facilitation policies, and promote direct flights between the two countries so as to attract more Chinese tourists to The Bahamas.
In recent years, China-Bahamas cultural exchanges have been in continuous expansion, and mutual understanding between the two peoples has been enhanced. China has increased its government scholarships, expanded programs of personnel training, thus offering more opportunities for the Chinese people to travel to The Bahamas and the Bahamian people to study and be trained in China.
The Belt and Road is a road of mutual respect and trust, a road of win-win cooperation and a road of mutual learning among civilizations. China welcomes The Bahamas to board the express train of the Belt and Road and jointly build the Belt and Road. Let China and The Bahamas work together to build a global economy that is more vibrant, open, inclusive, stable and sustainable, and let the Chinese and Bahamian peoples share the fruits of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Huang Qinguo is the ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.