BRI explores Eurasian countries’ full potential
Initiative sends invitation of cooperation to region, world
Published: Sep 08, 2023 05:27 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/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 route work together to promote people's well-being and give a further boost to global development amid daunting challenges. As the BRI celebrates its 10th anniversary, Global Times reporters Xia Wenxin and Lin Xiaoyi interviewed former officials and diplomats from three Eurasia countries - Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Belarus - to learn about the cooperation under the BRI over the past 10 years in their respective countries and their expectations for the initiative's future.

Bolat Nurgaliyev, chairman of the board of the Foreign Policy Research Institute and former secretary-general of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

I remember when President Xi was presenting his vision for the Silk Road Economic Belt in Kazakhstan. Although it was in its initial stage at the time, it was received very positively here in Kazakhstan and among the potential participants of the initiative, because it was seen as the invitation for cooperation.

Having served in China and understanding how seriously this kind of initiative is being prepared, I expected the BRI to be implemented stage by stage, with the involvement of all potential participants depending on the terms and benefits generated. 10 years later, the initiative has met my initial expectations in every aspect.

The circle of the participating states in the BRI is expanding. The initial focus of the BRI was on the immediate neighborhood - Asia, specifically. Now, we see that it is expanding beyond Asia, to Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. The wide participation in the BRI is a clear indication that everybody sees it as a win-win situation, and together we can set ambitious goals and achieve them on the strong foundation of China's economic success. The BRI is truly a global initiative.

Saidmukhtar Saidkasimov, president of the University of World Economy and Diplomacy and former Uzbek deputy prime minister

It is no exaggeration to say the initiative proposed by President Xi 10 years ago generated tremendous interest around the world from the very beginning. It was not only a very bold, unprecedented large-scale interregional project, but also has gained wide attention mainly because of its practical and applicable orientation, covering all the direct economic interests and benefits of many countries. 

For the first time in history, an unprecedented plan for the formation and development of an interconnected transportation infrastructure across the entire Eurasian continent was presented. Its implementation truly opened up broad prospects for the creation of a fundamentally new transport configuration across the vast expanse of our planet. 

From the very beginning, Uzbekistan was one of the first countries to highly appreciate and support the BRI for many reasons. On the one hand, the idea of active trade permeates the entire centuries-old history of our region. Uzbekistan and Central Asia have had practical trade relations with the whole of Eurasia for many years. On the other hand, geographically, Central Asia has been the center, the main route of the legendary Silk Road for centuries, being a strategically important trade hub.

The idea of reuniting peoples and countries of Eurasia into a single belt of mutually beneficial cooperation was proclaimed by China, where the Silk Road historically originated. China itself demonstrates to the world a great example of successful social development. In a historically short period, a huge number of Chinese people were able to get rid of poverty and backwardness and achieve a fairly high level of development. This achievement of the Chinese people is a rare and unique phenomenon in world history.

Anatoly Tozik, chairman of the Belarusian-Chinese Friendship Society and former deputy prime minister of Belarus

The Republic of Belarus was one of the first countries to support the BRI. The development of cooperation with China in all areas without exception fully meets the strategic national interests of Belarus, and participation in the BRI implementation offers significant opportunities for Belarus.

This, in particular, includes our cooperation with China within the framework of the Silk Road Economic Belt, where Belarus is geographically located. Such a status makes it possible to utilize all the potential of our country in the implementation of this initiative, including trade and economic, scientific and technical, humanitarian, transport, law enforcement, and so on.

An important characteristic of the BRI is that when China invites countries to participate in this project, it does not impose any conditions or requirements. Each country has the right to determine its own format of participation in the initiative. China offers the countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt interconnection and integration projects that will help them reconcile and coordinate their development strategies, unlock the potential of regional cooperation, boost investment and consumption, create demand and jobs, and expand humanitarian exchanges between peoples and the mutual enrichment of cultures.

In Belarus, we view the BRI as an exceptionally timely proposal to the world community for a new model of international cooperation and global management. This model can serve as an alternative to the alarming phenomena and trends in the modern system of world economic relations. 

A lot has been done in the past decade. But much more could and should have been done. I would very much like to believe that the global community will listen to and understand China more and join forces with it for better development.