Belt and Road Initiative ‘more important than ever’ in dealing with pandemic, challenges in global economy: economist
Published: Dec 02, 2021 11:19 PM
Beijing CBD Photo:VCG

Beijing CBD Photo:VCG

As the global economy is facing a difficult situation amid the pandemic, increasing debt problems, disrupted industrial chains and the need to cut emissions, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is “more important than ever,” Li Daokui, professor of the School of Economics and Management at Tsinghua University, told a forum held in Beijing on Thursday.

Li divided the challenges in the global economy into one “black swan” and three “gray rhinos.” According to Li, a “black swan” means that the epidemic virus is constantly mutating and evolving, and it’s unclear yet whether the mutation will have a major impact on the existing vaccines, for which people must be prepared.

Three “gray rhinos” refer to an increasing government debt problem, a re-arranged global industrial chain – especially as some Western countries are trying to move part of the industrial chain back to their own countries, contrary to the basic premise of globalization – and rising cost pressure during a global transition to clean energy, Li said.

In dealing with the epidemic, the BRI countries must unite, exchange relevant information and share vaccines and other technologies and information including testing. The Chinese government has set an example in this regard, Li noted.

To cope with the debt problem, Li called for financial departments of BRI countries to cooperate, and negotiate how to help countries resolve debt problems. “We must create our own experience and make breakthroughs in some of the existing international debt solutions.” 

Moreover, Li noted that China has some related low-carbon technologies, including photovoltaics and wind power, and is willing to share them. China is also willing to negotiate with relevant countries on how to further invest in the technologies.

Li especially mentioned the concept of an “energy Internet” proposed by the State Grid, noting that to take advantage of the time difference of BRI countries, an energy-sharing network can be established.

“For example, it may be our morning time in the middle of the night in Kazakhstan. At this time, our energy can be partially shared. There is a lot of work to be done in this area. China also has related technologies and ultra-long-distance DC and ultra-high voltage transmission technology to achieve that,” Li said.

The comments were made during the 2021 Belt & Road Trade and Investment Forum held in Beijing on Thursday. A number of diplomatic envoys in China and more than 600 political and business representatives from 77 countries, regions and international organizations have attended the forum both online or offline.