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China pools strength on Belt and Road strategy

2015-03-13 08:57 Xinhua Web Editor: Gu Liping

The Belt and Road initiatives, China's ambitious trans-Eurasia and across-ocean trade strategy, are among the most extensively referenced topics during the ongoing annual parliamentary session.[Special coverage]

Regardless of difficulties, there are clear signals that China is determined to implement the initiatives, which Chinese officials claimed represents a golden opportunity to forge greater cooperation between countries.

"China's diplomacy in 2015 will focus on making progress in the Belt and Road initiatives," Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Sunday at the session.

China announced Thursday that the board of directors and the senior management team have been formed in the country's 40 billion-U.S. dollar Silk Road Fund, which will start investment soon.

The fund will invest mainly in infrastructure and resources, as well as industrial and financial cooperation, in an effort to achieve common development and prosperity, Jin Qi, chair of the fund, said at a press conference on the sidelines of the session.

Proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013, the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiatives aim to improve cooperation with countries in a vast part of Asia, Europe and Africa.

The National People's Congress (NPC), or the parliament, is a platform for the country to create consensus and pool strength for major tasks. This year, it hopes to do so for the Belt and Road initiatives.


In a story published at the end of last year, U.S.-based bi-monthly magazine "Foreign Policy" had listed the Belt and Road initiatives as the first of "six trends from 2014 likely to burst into international headlines" for China in 2015.

It's premise was correct, but the story became flawed after trying to compare the Chinese strategy to the U.S.-sponsored Marshall Plan.

China has denied the accusation, saying that the initiatives are not exclusive and not a tool for geopolitics like the Marshall Plan, which led to the start of the cold war.

"China's Belt and Road initiatives are both much older and much younger than the Marshall Plan. Comparing one to the other is like comparing apples to oranges," said Wang Yi.

The initiatives are older because they embody the spirit of the ancient Silk Road, which had a history of more than 2,000 years.

The Silk Road was used by people of many countries for friendly exchange and commerce, and the country must renew the spirit and bring it up to date, Wang said.

The initiatives are younger because they are born in the age of globalization.

"They are the product of inclusive cooperation, not a tool of geopolitics, and must not be viewed with the outdated cold war mentality," Wang said.

The Silk Road Fund is not an aid agency, said Jin Qi, who expects market-oriented principles in operation and reasonable returns for shareholders, including China's foreign exchange reserves, the China Investment Corp., the Export-Import Bank of China and the China Development Bank.

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