China must shoulder responsibility for the B&R
Published: May 15, 2017 10:38 PM

Illustration: Peter C. Espina/GT

The two-day Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation has ended with great success and the joint communique showed the firm confidence and unity of the global community to work together for a better future through cooperation on the "One Belt and One Road" (B&R) initiative. There were around 1,500 guests from 130 countries and international organizations attending the forum in Beijing from Sunday to Monday, who marked a new page of the B&R with a spirit of peace, cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit.

The significance of this forum is that it is the first time in the past hundred years so many state heads gathered together to discuss economic topics initiated by the host country. That showed two facts: the host country has enough international influence and the economic topic was of great interest. The former shows the hard power and the latter the soft power of the host country. This, combined with China's wisdom, is what made this event so fruitful.

We believe that this event will become recognized as a turning point in the process of further globalization.

The two-day conference focused on exchange of views on policies and concrete measures to be taken to fulfill the obligations of countries along the route. In the past three years China has put a lot of effort into pushing the idea of the B&R so that more countries can understand it. Now, more than 10,000 contracts relating to the initiative have been signed and China has invested about $500 billion in projects including infrastructure and building new economic zones in 20 countries and regions. All this success has testified to the importance of the B&R in boosting local economic development.

China has to take this opportunity to tell the whole world that China is not a source of endless funding but that it can only play the part of an enabling country in order to support those who are in need of help. Actually China has seven roles to bear as it shoulders the initiative, which can be described in alphabetical order:

The first is to be an assembler. China is responsible for assembling together all the countries with different backgrounds and interests to form a global team to work hand in hand to conduct the projects.

The second is to be a builder. China will help to construct projects like railways, highways and ports.

The third is to be a coordinator. China must act as a coordinator to solve problems or disputes among the various countries and to deal with different opinions. Without such coordination, the projects cannot be conducted smoothly .

The fourth is to be a designer. China should provide its best capability in designing projects to make sure that they meet the environmental conditions and are agreed on by most of the local people. A good design is a half-way to success.

The fifth one is engineering. This is a highly important factor for China. China has very strong ability in engineering and can effectively bring projects to fruition and overcome unexpected challenges. Good engineering reflects the soft power of China.

The sixth is to be a financier. China must do its best to be a good and qualified financier. Everybody in China knows that "building a road can bring you a fortune." But the truth is: "no money, no road." So China is responsible for cooperating with all countries to make effective use of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and other funds to support all the projects with sufficient financial services. All financial matters have to be under tough supervision and regulation.

Gain is the last role for China to take on, which involves ensuring that all countries can share the benefits from the B&R. To get "gains" in a transparent, fair and just manner will be the final goal for all participants in the initiative.

China has a lot to do and these seven roles will be very important factors in determining whether the initiative can be sustainable.

We are definitely aware that China can deliver whatever it has promised. So the whole world should feel relaxed that the B&R will make a great contribution and will help the global economy to recover.

The author is a senior fellow with the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.

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