BRI builds up connectivity for ASEAN prosperity
Published: Aug 17, 2023 06:15 PM
Illustration: Liu Xiangya/GT

Illustration: Liu Xiangya/GT

Editor's Note:

Over the past decade, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), following the guiding principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, has grown into a global platform where countries along the routes work together to promote people's wellbeing and give a further boost to global development. Infrastructure facilities built under the BRI connect countries in the Southeast Asia region to the global supply chain, whether through maritime or overland transportation. 

As the BRI celebrates its 10th anniversary, Global Times reporters Hu Yuwei, Li Xuanmin and Hao Shuangyan interviewed diplomats and politicians from China and ASEAN countries to learn about the highlights of the cooperation achievements over the past decade and their expectations for high-quality BRI construction in the next decade.

Kao Kim Hourn, 

Secretary-General of ASEAN 

ASEAN and China have been working closely together over the past 32 years, from 1991 until 2023, and the partnership has consistently been elevating. ASEAN and China share close geographical proximity, cultural ties and historic connections. There are extensive mechanisms in place between China and ASEAN at all levels, from political, security, economic to social culture. This is quite important for us.

China-ASEAN relations are now at their highest level. Since 2009, China has been the largest trading partner of ASEAN. ASEAN is a very large trading partner for China as well. China has been a strong supporter of the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, a very important instrument for resolving our differences and promoting friendly relations between us. 

ASEAN has a huge plan on connectivity, so we have been able to take advantage of the opportunities and the cooperation with China on the BRI. These projects are certainly supporting the ASEAN integration as we work to increase our finance, and increase connectivity between our region and China.

Hou Yanqi, 

Chinese Ambassador to ASEAN

ASEAN, as the priority direction and important partner in the joint construction of the BRI, has achieved fruitful cooperation results with China in the past 10 years. I believe there are several important reasons for this. Firstly, China and ASEAN are connected by mountains and rivers, and have a close relationship. They are also comprehensive strategic partners, with solid political and public support for cooperation in various fields. 

Secondly, we have always adhered to the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. We have also promoted development through openness and achieved win-win outcomes through cooperation. We have achieved complementary advantages in high-quality construction of the BRI. 

Thirdly, China and ASEAN are both determined actors with visions. We prioritize commitments and implementation, ensuring that the achievements of the BRI are tangible and substantial. 

ASEAN has a superior geographical location and plays an important role in the process of regional economic cooperation. 

However, it also faces development bottlenecks, such as insufficient infrastructure investment and relatively lagging regional connectivity. The implementation of the BRI has played an important role in breaking these bottlenecks and fully unleashing the development potential of ASEAN.

Ouyang Yujing, 

Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia

Malaysia is one of the earliest countries to support and participate in the BRI. With the  support of the leaders of both countries, the high-quality construction of the BRI between China and Malaysia has achieved fruitful results. 

According to Malaysian data, China's direct investment in Malaysia reached $12.5 billion in 2022, accounting for one-third of Malaysia's foreign direct investment. 

Flagship projects such as the "Two countries, Twin Parks" and the East Coast Rail Link are progressing solidly, providing strong impetus for China-Malaysia economic and trade cooperation. 

China and Malaysia should continuously enhance the level of high-quality construction of the BRI, focusing on cultivating cooperation growth points in areas such as electronics and electrical, digital economy, green development, new energy, high-end manufacturing, and modern agriculture. 

We hope both sides can upgrade cooperation toward innovation, intelligence, digitalization and green development. It is believed that under the strategic guidance of the leaders of both countries, we will see more achievements and better benefits for the people of both countries.

Marzuki Alie, 

former speaker of the House of Representative of Republic of Indonesia

I believe that President Xi Jinping's address to the Indonesian parliament in 2013 was very significant, not only for Indonesia-China relations, but also for international cooperation. China demonstrated a cooperative disposition that will yield mutual benefits. I believe it is essential for the Indonesian government to respond to the China-proposed initiative at that time.

In 2023, it will have been exactly 10 years since I presided over the Indonesian parliament during Xi's visit. 

That year was definitely an important year, and over the past 10 years, the cooperation between China and Indonesia has increased in a variety of areas. China and Indonesia's inclusive economic cooperation, transfer of technology and knowledge, infrastructure and connectivity, as well as cultural and educational exchanges can serve as a model for mutually beneficial cooperation and joint development among other developing countries.