Infrastructure Connectivity-- “Belt and Road” Initiative: Building Synergy with EU Policies and Strategies
Origin:Boao Forum for Asia      Time:2017-09-04 16:13:32     Views:688201

With the deepening of world polarization, economic globalization, social informationization, and cultural diversification, the trend of peaceful development is gaining momentum and revolution and innovation continue to make great strides forward. At the same time, the world economic growth needs new driving force, the development needs to be more inclusive and balanced and the gap between rich and poor needs to be bridged. The development of the Asian and European regions is presented with major opportunities and faces many daunting challenges. The “Belt and Road” Initiative will promote the connectivity between the Asian and European economic circles. Infrastructure is a key step to realizing Euro-Asian connectivity.

Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) will hold a special meeting themed as “Belt and Road: Building Synergy with EU Policies and Strategies” in Paris, France on September 14 and 15, 2017, during which “Infrastructure connectivity” is one of the topics.

Vigorous infrastructure is the key to connectivity between Asia and Europe

In a geographical sense, the Eurasian continent is a whole, but the two sides are much different from each other in economy, history and culture. The “Belt and Road” initiative is a powerful attempt at breaking such barriers. It will facilitate the building of a community of shared destiny between Asia, dominated by development countries and the economically advanced Europe so as to contribute to world peace and development.

How will the “Belt and Road” Initiative coordinate with European strategies as a whole and development plans of member states individually in the field of infrastructure? What kind of development will be achieved in the Eurasian economy and the world economy as a whole if we can integrate the rapidly developing and dynamic Asian economic circle and the mature and developed European economic circle through infrastructure such as railways, highways, ports and electricity?

Since Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the “Belt and Road” initiative in the autumn of 2013, a complex infrastructure network has been formed. The network revolves around economic corridors such as China-Pakistan, China-Mongolia-Russia and the new Eurasian Continental Bridge, which are connected by land, sea and air passages and the information superhighway and rely on railways, ports, pipe network and other major projects. Establishing connectivity creates prosperity in all sectors.

In 2014, Premier Li Keqiang of the Chinese State Council proposed to jointly promote connectivity between Asia and Europe and the trade and investment liberalization at the Asia-Europe Summit held in Milan. In 2016, he proposed another three initiatives in Ulan Bator as China's contribution to the Asia-Europe cooperation in order to achieve a new leap in the next decade.

Last September, Danny Alexander, Vice President of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and Secretary of Board of Directors, said at the G20 summit that infrastructure can closely link different markets, promote trade, investment and economic growth. In July this year, the G20 Global Infrastructure Hub released a report predicting that by 2040, the total investment in global infrastructure construction will reach $94 trillion.

Infrastructure is the priority area of the “Belt and Road” initiative, and it is also important for improving grade facilitation and building a high standard free trade network. In the past four years, China-Europe trains have been established, with their numbers increased, connecting Asia and Europe. China Railway Corporation's statistics show that in 2017, the number of China-Europe trains increased by 612 compared with the same period last year, an increase of 158%. At present, relying on the new Eurasian Continental Bridge and the Siberia continental bridge, three railway passages in the west, in the center and in the east have been built between Asia and Europe. China Railway has planned51lines. On August 17th, the head of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said that China-Europe trains have run 4,000 trips, covering12 countries and 31 cities in Europe.

In addition, great progress has been made in the construction of six major economic corridors in Asia and Europe. The Port of Le Havre of France, Piraeus of Greece, Colombo Harbor of Sri Lanka, Serbia E763 expressway project and other major transportation projects have been started or put into operation. The economic corridor of the new Eurasian Continental Bridge is advancing. The China-Pakistan economic corridor, the China-Mongolia-Russia economic corridor, the China-Bangladesh-India-Myanmar economic corridor, and the China-Central Asia-West Asian economic corridor all contribute to the development of the Asian and European regions.

A research published by Bruegel, an economic think tank in Europe, pointed out that European countries will benefit from traffic infrastructure improvement and reduction of transportation costs brought by the “Belt and Road” Initiative. Take trade as an example. Belgium, Holland, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Denmark, Moldova, Germany, Bosnia Herzegovina and Poland will be the top ten beneficiary countries and their respective annual trade growth is expected to be between 8%-10%.

The “Belt and Road” construction is actively dovetailing with development strategies of countries and regions along the route. The realization of development plans, including Britain's “Economic Center in northern England”, Russia's “Eurasian Economic Union”, Kazakhstan's “Bright Road”, and South Korea's “Eurasian Initiative” will all be based on a mature infrastructure system.

What brilliant ideas will the entrepreneurs from Asia and Europe come up in respect of policy, strategy and project?

Infrastructure connectivity is commensurate with the needs of the “Belt and Road” countries; it holds the key to the “Belt and Road” initiative. At the same time, infrastructure requires a large amount of money, and the long construction cycle can lead to a series of problems, such as financial risks. Every enterprise involved will also face difficulties and challenges with respect to law, corporate governance, talents and risk control.

President Xi Jinping pointed out that those who work alone, add; those who work together, multiply. Connectivity should be made a priority in the international cooperation on the “Belt and Road” initiative; major projects and programs should be developed and cooperation in fields such as highways, railways, ports, airlines, oil and gas pipelines, and electricity and communications networks should be promoted, so as to build infrastructure connectivity.

How will the “Belt and Road” Initiative coordinate with European strategies as a whole and development plans of member states individually in the field of infrastructure? Has good progress been made? What needs to be done further along the line? The Boao Forum for Asia Paris Meeting will provide an important platform for Europe and Asia to learn more about the “Belt and Road” Initiative. During the sub-session of “Infrastructure Connectivity”, representatives of Asian and European entrepreneurs will discuss these topics.

As of now, Stéphane AVER, CEO of AAQIUS, Amer Z. DURRANI, CEO of Secur Global, Ou Xiaoli, inspector of the Western Development Department of Chinese National Development and Reform Commission, SUN Ziyu, Vice President and chief engineer of China Communications Construction Company Ltd., and WANG An, President of China International Engineering Consulting Corporation will  attend the forum.

On May 16th this year, the signing ceremony for strategic cooperation between China Censtar Incorporated Company and AAQIUS was successfully held in Beijing. What news will Stéphane AVER bring to Paris this time? As a recognized development expert, what solutions will Amer Z. DURRANI give for improving energy and infrastructure? As one who has been involved in the design and implementation of the “Belt and Road” Initiative, what suggestions and opinions will OU Xiaoli provide? In June this year, SUN Ziyu said at the 8th International Infrastructure Investment and Construction Forum that cross-border cooperation can provide added value to our infrastructure needs. What opportunities will this forum present in terms of cross-border cooperation? China International Engineering Consulting Corporation provides intelligent services for investment decisions on major national construction projects. What information will WANG An disclose in terms of China's strategy and policies?

In May this year, at the “Belt and Road” Forum for International Cooperation, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, former French Prime Minister and BFA Board Member, called on the Western European countries represented by France to have an open mind, actively participate in the “Belt and Road” initiative, increase their cooperation and exchanges with countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Africa and other regions and work together with China to build an international cooperation framework featuring mutual benefit and win-win result.

Infrastructure connectivity is particularly important to the Asia-Europe connectivity whether in terms of lowered transportation costs, or the strategic coordinated effects brought about by policy coordination, economic development brought about by unimpeded trade, a financial cooperation network brought about by financial integration, and frequent exchanges brought about by people-to-people bonds.

Therefore, to actively build strategic synergy with EU strategies and policies during the implementation of the “Belt and Road” Initiative, European and Asian countries need to seize the opportunity and make joint efforts to do a good job in infrastructure construction.

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