David Blair on BRI creating new opportunities and momentum for participating countries

2023-September-15 13:50 By: GMW.cn

Interview Series: Community with a Shared Future for Mankind

EP15: David Blair on BRI creating new opportunities and momentum for participating countries

Welcome back. In this episode, David Blair, vice president and senior economist at the Center for China and Globalization (CCG), will join us to discuss China’s practice in promoting the building of a community with a shared future for mankind through high-standard opening up to the outside world.

Dr. Blair, welcome.

Q1: In recent years, China has put forward the concept of a community with a shared future for mankind. What is your take on this concept, and how does practicing this concept contribute to global economic growth and common prosperity?

David Blair: I think when China talks about a shared future for all mankind, the most important factor is peace. You know, avoiding conflicts from international situations is more important than anything else. One of the reasons China has been able to succeed over the last forty years and the Chinese people have become so much better off is that China hasn’t had a war. In my own country, we've been basically continuously in war, and it's done terrible things to our economy our people, and our society.

I think the main thing going forward is that the world finds a way to cooperate and maintain peaceful growth, that's really critical. We're in a position now in the world where a tremendous amount of damage could be done. I mean, I never expected to see a big war in Europe again in my lifetime. So having a global cooperation to avoid that kind of nonsense is the most important thing going forward.

The US economy is almost all North America-based. The Chinese economy is going to move more and more to China and Southeast Asia and “Belt and Road” countries. Europe has always been a highly protectionist sector. So economically, it's important that we do not have big conflicts with each other. I think talking with, understanding each other, not demonizing each other, that's the most important part of shared prosperity and a shared future for mankind.

Q2: In your opinion, what are the efforts China has made in promoting high-standard opening-up that are of particular contribution to that “shared prosperity” of all countries?

David Blair: I'm most familiar with the Belt and Road initiative. I think it's a good thing. The BRI is making certain reasonably priced, high-quality infrastructure available to Africa, Southeast Asia, and South Asia that would not have been available anywhere else, creating an opportunity for them. Infrastructure is really critical for development, they need infrastructure in order to build businesses and take advantage. Because of the huge infrastructure boom over the last 20 years in China, Chinese companies know how to build stuff quickly and fairly cheaply compared to anywhere else in the world. So it's an opportunity for those companies to use their expertise to produce it in countries that need the infrastructure.

I've seen a lot of Chinese projects in Africa in particular. Without these Chinese companies, in many of these areas, the infrastructure would not be built, because they don't have anybody financing them, and they may not have companies that know how to do it. So I think this is very, very beneficial for a lot of these countries.

Q3: So are there any impressive cases of infrastructure projects that have been carried out in cooperation between China and other Belt and Road countries?

David Blair: I had the chance to go to Ethiopia three, or four years ago. I saw a lot of highways and the very critical railroad (Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway) being built from Addis Ababa, the capital, to Djibouti, a country-based main port for Ethiopia. Without the Belt and Road and similar Chinese support, that would not have been possible.

Another example I saw is a dam (Karuma Hydropower Station) being built in Uganda on the (Victoria) Nile River. Uganda has well less than half the population has any access to electricity, and the dam will greatly improve their lives by giving them access to electricity. There is a very young dynamic population, and they probably can take advantage of that by building businesses and improving their lives.

So I think the Belt and Road is potentially a very good thing. Part of it is giving those countries opportunities to sell their products in China, which I think is just essential for them going forward.

Q4: Thank you for the examples. We have noticed that as the international influence of the BRI continues to expand, some Western countries have voiced negative opinions towards this initiative. What is your perspective on this?

David Blair: If you listen to the American press, there's a lot of criticism of the BRI, and it's always very vague. It's just basically criticisms of China being involved in these areas. I don't see any legitimate reason for criticizing it. It's a good thing for most of these countries.

I think relationships between them are good, China is kind of a godsend for many of these countries, because previously they had no opportunity typically rather than their former European colonial power to dominate them, so all their trade and investment basically came with a former colonial power. Now they get opportunities they can either trade with Europe or they can trade with China, and that puts them in a much, much better position. Most of them are welcoming Chinese investors.

It’s not only Chinese investment through the BRI, it also creates a lot of opportunities for private sector investments. If you go around Africa you see (thousands) of Chinese entrepreneurs there. They create job opportunities. They create business parks, they create small businesses. They're transforming much of the continent. So the BRI is kind of a leader for the private sector to get in there and further develop these areas, especially the African continent.

David Blair on BRI creating new opportunities and momentum for participating countries

Editor: GSY
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