China’s ports provide vision of future offered by B&R

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/12/18 22:28:40

Illustration: Peter C. Espina/GT



Ports have always been the lifetime of trade and economic development, cultural intercourse and social interaction. For far too long, in too many places (both developing and even in some developed countries) the maintenance, expansion and upgrading of our ports and related facilities, has been neglected.

In some instances, such neglect has clouded our vision of the future. One need only visit a few ports in China to clear away that cloudy vision and see what is possible, to visualize where we can be in a few short years with the advantages offered by the Belt and Road (B&R) initiative.

Vanuatu, a member of the South Pacific community of nations, seeks nothing from others except the hand of sincere friendship, mutual respect, and the right to survive. We are in a tumultuous world that faces not only the bullying threats of larger, far less tolerant international actors, but also the adverse impact of human-induced climate change, consequences to which a few are indifferent, preferring instead to pursue their own interests at the expense of others.

Fortunately, however, China stands in contrast to the selfish and self-centered few. This is what brings us together today and tomorrow, and will bring us together as we face the future.

The B&R initiative is an effective and innovative path to nurture our connectivity, as well as our ability to develop badly needed local, national, regional and global infrastructure, enabling nations to be more open to the advantages of that connectivity. Nations that have traditionally been the least able to access capital for infrastructure and free trade that is open, transparent and fair, may well be the primary beneficiaries of the B&R approach.

In the world of international affairs and trade, there are no superheroes who dash to the rescue of those in need. There are only nations and peoples led by calm, humble and intelligent women and men who understand the complexities of the world in which we live, as well as the complexities of the world we left behind. We do not seek a return to that world, except perhaps as a reference as we look to the future.

An example of history being highly instructive, even as we seek our own path to sustainable development for the present and future generations, would be the often unacknowledged role that Chinese labor as well as that of native American Indians, and African Americans, played in building the transcontinental railroad that transformed the US and its economy, and the other forms of labor without which the US would not have become the country it is today with its massive economy.

Thus, the B&R initiative is a fairer and far more just formulation of what until now had been the most successful example of the economic transformation of a larger land mass into a highly effective form for the production, distribution and human consumption of goods and services.

We expect China's very welcome initiative with the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to be an eye-opener, which may very well encourage others to take similar measures to benefit that group of countries, as well as others that may be landlocked, victims of desertification, or otherwise unduly exposed to vulnerabilities.

This article was compiled based on a speech by Robert F. Van LIEROP, former permanent representative of Vanuatu to the UN and founding chair of Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), at the International Forum on the Belt and Port Cities held in Tianjin earlier in December. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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