Endorsement of B&R looms over China visit by UK’s May

By Wang Jiamei Source:Global Times Published: 2018/1/28 19:28:39

Ahead of British Prime Minister Theresa May's trip to China this week, disagreements between the two countries over the Belt and Road initiative (B&R) have reportedly cast a shadow over the potential outcome of the visit, which has become an unavoidable issue in the bilateral economic and trade relationship.

The Chinese side wants the UK to give a formal endorsement of the B&R, which May has resisted doing, putting bilateral commercial cooperation at a certain degree of risk, the Financial Times reported on Friday, citing anonymous government officials.

When it comes to the bilateral economic relationship, there is no way for the UK to avoid stating its attitude toward the B&R. China has made great efforts to promote the initiative as a significant opportunity to  propel global development, so it clearly hopes the UK will take part in the initiative.

There is no denying that the B&R is a major initiative from which China benefits, but at the same time, it is clear that the initiative must achieve mutual benefits and win-win results for every participant if it is to be successful. Infrastructure projects along the B&R route will certainly give a big boost to economic development in Europe, which will also bring benefits to the UK.

Moreover, the B&R initiative also offers a great platform for product and technical cooperation among China and various European countries in terms of the construction of infrastructure projects. It also allows them to work together and explore new opportunities in third markets like Asia and Africa, which is also in line with the UK's interests.

Some Western politicians and media organizations tend to view the B&R as a source of political leverage for China to seize the global leadership role, which is unnecessary paranoia. China has never had such an intention behind the B&R.

A formal endorsement from the UK for the B&R would be great, but there is no need for China to force the UK to do so. China has signed cooperative agreements with more than 80 countries and organizations under the framework of the B&R initiative, according to the Xinhua News Agency. China will surely continue its efforts to implement it, whether the UK supports it or not.

However, it should be noted that there is indeed a foundation and much potential for the two countries to jointly advance the initiative.

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


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