With pragmatic attitude from London, B&R can boost ‘golden era’ in Sino-UK relations

By Xiao Xin Source:Global Times Published: 2018/2/5 22:23:39

China and the UK should pursue a consensus on co-developing the Beijing-proposed Belt and Road (B&R) initiative, which can be an ideal way to enable the continuation of the "golden era" in bilateral relations.

That means China must determine what's missing in the current framework governing the B&R so as to assure the outside world of the transparency and impartiality of the initiative. The UK, for its part, should adopt a more pragmatic attitude toward engagement in the initiative, which offers ample opportunities for British businesses in the post-Brexit era. During a visit to China last week, UK Prime Minister Theresa May said that she "welcomed the opportunities" offered by the B&R initiative, but she added that "we've discussed how the UK and China will continue to work together to identify how best we can cooperate on the Belt and Road initiative across the region and ensure it meets international standards," according to a Financial Times article.

May apparently laid bare concerns over the B&R initiative's alignment with international standards. Since proposing the initiative in 2013, China has taken tangible steps to turn its conceptual vision into a reality, with the establishment of the Silk Road Fund, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and the signing of a raft of B&R-related agreements with many countries and regions, among other actions. Nevertheless, many more efforts, particularly with regard to rules and regulations to align B&R projects with international practices, will be required to flesh out the initiative.

To win the trust of the UK, as well as other countries and regions that are still concerned about the true benefits of the initiative, it's vital to establish a well-functioning framework that ensures B&R projects are completely transparent, gives equal treatment to all shareholders and investors, and provides effective dispute resolution. Beyond that, China can push for the UK's engagement in specific B&R projects, especially infrastructure, energy and logistics projects in third markets, so the two countries can join hands to effectively translate the initiative into a growth enabler benefiting all involved parties.

With such efforts, it is expected that the initiative will in time win the formal endorsement of the UK as well as other economies hoping to benefit from the prosperity to be built along the B&R route. For its part, the UK should actively work with China to clear the way for the initiative to play its part in boosting bilateral ties. After leaving the EU, the UK should seek closer relations with China, and the B&R can be an ideal platform for the UK to put pragmatism into practice.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn


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