Countries show interest in joining ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative

By Xie Jun Source:Global Times Published: 2015-6-18 23:28:03

Countries in Asia, Europe and South America are responding to China's "One Belt, One Road" call, with a number of government officials expressing eagerness to participate in the initiative at a forum on Thursday.

The Silk Road Economic Belt Cities International Forum, themed "Unimpeded Trade, Co-build Prosperity," is attended by more than 40 government officials, scholars and researchers from dozens of countries and regions, and held in Yiwu, East China's Zhejiang Province on Thursday and Friday.

The participants offered opinions and suggestions on key aspects of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (also referred to as "One Belt, One Road"), including policy communication, trade opportunities and financial cooperation.

The "One Belt, One Road" strategy was proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 as an innovative approach to connecting China with other parts of the world including Central Asia, South Asia, Europe and Africa.

Former Slovenian President Danilo Türk said at the forum that economic development of cities needs the support from national and international policy­makers, who should come up with innovative and sustainable solutions for the development of cities.

"The 'One Belt, One Road' initiative is one of the far-sighted solutions proposed by China. It has brought many opportunities for my country. Many ports in Slovenia have already built business connection with China and other countries in Asia, and a lot of Slovenian enterprises have showed willingness to participate in the  initiative," he said.

José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, former Prime Minister of Spain, also said that projects under the "One Belt, One Road" initiative, especially the Yiwu-Xinjiang-Europe cargo train, have brought new opportunities to Spain. 

The freight train, which runs between Madrid in Spain and Yiwu along the Yiwu-Xinjiang-Europe cargo line, went into operation in December 2014.

"The cargo train was passionately welcomed by the countries along the route, and we will increase the train's service frequency to meet the requirements of trading between China and the countries along the route," Sheng Qiuping, mayor of Yiwu, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Zapatero also told the Global Times Thursday that the Yiwu-Xinjiang-Europe cargo train is a "crucial" project under the "One Belt, One Road" initiative.

"We can expect greater room for cooperation between Spain and China in the future," he said.

The forum also witnessed the release of a report related to One Belt, One Road by the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China (RDCY). 

The RDCY puts forward the concept of "pivot cities" for international trade under the "One Belt, One Road" initiative. Pivot cities refer to geographically advantageous and socioeconomically open cities with a sizable volume of international trade, such as Shanghai, Yiwu and Kashi of Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

Augmenting the development of these cities is central to bolstering the overall development and prosperity of countries involved in the "One Belt, One Road" initiative, the report said.

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