On 28 May 2019, the Daily Telegraph and China Daily joint column “China Watch” carried an article by Ambassador Liu Xiaoming entitled “The new journey for BRI means new opportunities for China-UK ‘Golden Era’”. The full text is as follows:
The New Journey for BRI Means New Opportunities for China-UK “Golden Era”
The second Belt and Road Forum for International Co-operation in late April brought nearly 5,000 people from more than 150 countries and more than 90 international organisations to Beijing for discussions on deepening international collaboration and creating a brighter future for the Belt and Road Initiative. A total of 283 business outcomes were reached and more than $64 billion (£49.2 billion) worth of agreements were signed before the forum and during it.
At the forum, Chinese President Xi Jinping said, “We should focus on priorities and project execution, move forward with results-oriented implementation, just like an architect refining the blueprint, and jointly promote high-quality Belt and Road co-operation.” These words mark the beginning of a new journey for BRI development characterised by high-quality international collaboration.
Such collaboration will be more transparent and open. The BRI always advocate transparency as a way to eliminate the breeding ground of conspiracy or corruption. This is demonstrated in the launch of the Beijing Initiative for Clean Silk Road and the multilateral co-operation between BRI partners on customs, taxation and audit supervision as well as anti-corruption training courses. The BRI is not an exclusive club. It is open to financial institutions from all countries, including multilateral ones, and it encourages third-market co-operation so that the benefits of BRI development are shared by many. The idea of sharing is further illustrated in China’s decision to host the second China International Import Expo later this year.
High-quality BRI co-operation places people first, encourages deeper collaboration on cultural and people-to-people exchanges, and focuses on eradicating poverty, increasing employment and improving people’s lives. To achieve these goals, China will implement the Belt and Road Initiative Talents Exchange Programme and will, over the next five years, sponsor 5,000 people for exchanges, training and joint research on innovation, and host seminars for 10,000 people from political parties, think-tanks and NGOs of countries involved in the BRI. Moreover, China intends to work with the United Nations on development issues, implement the Belt and Road South-South Co-operation Initiative on Climate Change and deepen co-operation on agriculture, health care, disaster mitigation and water resources, so that more developing countries will get the help needed in their poverty alleviation efforts and the general public of these countries will feel engaged and have a greater sense of individual achievement and happiness.
High quality also means higher standards on green and sustainable development. The BRI aims to promote green development. China and BRI partners have formulated the Green Investment Principles for Belt and Road Development, continue to implement the Green Silk Road Envoys Programme, and set up the Belt and Road Sustainable Cities Alliance and the BRI International Green Development Coalition. To enhance business and fiscal sustainability, the Debt Sustainability Framework for Participating Countries of the Belt and Road Initiative has been adopted and companies taking part are encouraged to follow general international rules and standards in project development, operation, procurement and tendering and bidding.
Inclusive global economic growth calls for high-quality BRI development, and so does the shift in the growth model in China. In the recent Belt and Road Forum, President Xi announced a number of important measures of deeper reform and wider opening up, including expanding market access for foreign investment, enhancing collaboration on protection of intellectual property rights, importing more goods and services, engaging in more effective macro-economic policy co-ordination with international partners and ensuring the implementation of opening-up policies. China means what it says. These measures will provide new impetus for high-quality BRI development and create new opportunities for better interaction between China and the rest of the world.
In my nearly ten years as ambassador to the United Kingdom, I have witnessed with my own eyes the growth of China-UK co-operation on the BRI, which is not least reflected in the presence of Chancellor Philip Hammond at the Belt and Road Forum twice as the special representative of Prime Minister Theresa May.
At the first Belt and Road Forum, Mr. Hammond called the UK a “natural partner” of China in advancing the BRI. This time, he described the BRI as “a project of truly epic ambition” and proposed to combine the best of Chinese manufacturing, engineering and construction with the best of British project design and legal, technical and financial services expertise as the two countries harness the “Golden Era” of their relationship.
As the BRI starts a new journey, its high-quality development will create more opportunities for deeper China-UK collaboration on international standard-setting, green finance, risk management and in third markets and this would ensure wider, higher and deeper development of the China-UK Golden-Era.
Things of true worth attract admiration. The BRI is receiving more and more votes of confidence and approval from the international community because it is a platform for working together, rather than a game of thrones. In promoting steady, sustained, high-quality BRI development, China opens its arms to all countries including the UK and stands ready to enhance policy synergy, so as to build better relations with the UK and other countries and deliver more benefits to the people of both our two countries and beyond.