Belt and Road Propels Post-Pandemic World Economic Recovery
Since the coronavirus outbreak, the unprecedented centennial changes have accelerated, more challenges and risks presented themselves, and de-globalization played out beneath. Meanwhile, protectionism and unilateralism picked up while zero-sum-game thinking flourished in some countries and regions. In the competition between cooperation and confrontation, multilateralism and unilateralism, and openness and closedness, China plays a leading role in the world.
As the biggest developing country and a responsible country, China’s Belt and Road Initiative is based on multilateralism and equality, staying committed to achieving shared growth through consultation and collaboration and paving the way for economic globalization. Especially in the context of the COVID-19 crisis when many industries shut down and international cooperation was hindered, the Belt and Road Initiative has provided an important platform and channel for promoting global economic recovery and revitalizing regional economic circulation. It is also an indispensable driver for building an open, inclusive, and mutually beneficial new type of globalization.
The Belt and Road Initiative is a vision of cooperation to meet challenges together. In the COVID-19 pandemic, China and BRI countries shared weal and woe, joining hands to protect people’s lives. While maritime and air transport have been greatly affected due to the lockdown in various countries, land transport served as a vital channel to deliver anti-pandemic materials, promote cooperation, ensure an open logistics network, and stabilize international supply chains. For instance, China Customs issued 10 measures to facilitate China-Europe Express, which permitted companies faster customs clearance, enabled multimodal transport services linked by rail transports, and expanded cross-border e-commerce and express mail services. From January to May 2020, the number of China-Europe freight trains and shipments increased by 28% and 32% year-on-year, and a total of 12,524 tons of anti-pandemic materials were delivered.
The Belt and Road Initiative is a vision of promoting economic recovery. During the pandemic, the construction of the Budapest-Belgrade railway, the Padma Bridge, and the Bangkok-Chiang Mai high-speed railway went on, which proved that we have achieved both virus prevention and production resumption, and demonstrated the strong vitality of the BRI. As of September 2020, China had signed 200 cooperation documents on the Belt and Road Initiative with 138 countries and 30 international organizations and launched more than 2,000 cooperation projects. In the first three quarters of 2020, China’s investment and cooperation with BRI countries advanced, with China’s non-financial outbound direct investment increasing by 29.7% year-on-year. The total value of the newly signed contracted projects with overseas BRI participants was 83.71billion dollars and the turnover reached 53.13billion dollars, accounting for 55.7% and 58.2% respectively. The Belt and Road Initiative has expanded the depth and coverage of the cooperation among countries in 2020, and it will bring more benefits to people along the routes and infuse more impetus to global economic recovery.
The Belt and Road Initiative is a vision that unleashes development potentials and echoes the fourth technological revolution. Although the pandemic has severely hit the world economy, it has made telemedicine, online education, shared platforms, collaborative office work, and cross-border e-commerce services popular. In response to the pandemic, China and the BRI countries expanded cooperation fields and channels, created a “Healthy Silk Road” through exchanging virus prevention experience, establishing a public health information network, and transporting medical supplies. China also has strengthened policy coordination with BRI countries, raised special funds, and discovered new growth potentials through cloud expo, meetings, and agreement signings to create a “Digital Silk Road”.
One of the lessons that the pandemic has taught us is building an open, inclusive, and mutually beneficial new type of globalization is the only way to combat the global crisis and achieve stable development, and the Belt and Road Initiative shoulders an essential responsibility for this purpose.
Contributed by Pan Shuangji, Liaoning University, Department of International Relations
Translated by Ren Meiqi[ Editor: Zhang Zhou ]