Actions speak louder than words. Guests who attended the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos said that much perceivable progress under China's Belt and Road Initiative, although still very young, has already set down roots in countries along its path. [Special coverage]
Looking ahead, as many of them told Xinhua, the inspiring initiative is expected to generate more win-win results and lead the world, especially a troubled area like the Middle East, towards sustainable prosperity, equality and stability.
TANGIBLE PROJECTS SET DOWN ROOTS
Chinese President Xi Jinping said Tuesday in his keynote speech at the opening session of the WEF that the circle of countries along the Belt and Road is growing bigger, and Chinese investment along the routes has surpassed 50 billion U.S. dollars in the past three years.
"50 billion U.S dollars is an impressive, huge number," Khalid Al Rumaihi, Chief Executive of Bahrain's Economic Development Board, told Xinhua. He said that a number of Chinese businesses such as ICT giant Huawei have established operations in Bahrain.
"We have already seen physical evidence showing that the initiative has translated into real progress," he said.
Moreover, the head of the Bahraini government organization, which is responsible for attracting international investment, mentioned in particular that Dragon City, a retail space jointly developed by Chinese investors and a Bahrain company and launched at the end of 2015, has been extremely successful so far.
Retailers there currently attract around 500,000 visitors on average per month.
Ren Hongbing, Chairman of Chinese heavy machinery manufacturer Sinomach Group, said in Davos that over 270 projects with a total value of around 18 billion dollars have found their homes in over 30 countries along the Belt and Road.
As a responsible major country, China has been acting not only in the interests of itself but also the whole world, which is reflected particularly in the Belt and Road Initiative, said Boston Consulting Group (BCG) Chairman Hans-Paul Buerkner.
He told Xinhua that people need to feel they are creating value for their own. By improving infrastructure connectivity, the Belt and Road creates a better base for economic development in many countries.
Specifically, "it will bring more people together, providing more opportunities to have jobs, as more small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) alongside are expected to be established," said Buerkner.
In addition to infrastructure, the Belt and Road provides opportunities for countries like Bahrain to grow into a regional financial center by enhancing the presence of China's currency the renminbi, said Rumaihi.
"Furthermore, we see huge potential for Bahrain to play a role as a gateway to the Gulf for Chinese companies," he added.
GREATER ACHIEVEMENTS EXPECTED
Those interviewed by Xinhua at the WEF agree that while the Belt and Road Initiative is currently in its early phase, dividends are seen in the longer term.
SMEs along the Belt and Road can boost the GDP of their countries by 4 percent to 7 percent as a result of increased market access, according to a new WEF study released at the meeting.
The study also showed that by applying new technologies that improve infrastructure efficiency, companies could achieve real-time supply chain visibility, eliminate inconsistencies in customs clearance, reduce overall operating costs and speed up delivery of goods along the Belt and Road between Europe, Asia and beyond.
"The landscape of the economies in developing countries along the Belt and Road would significantly change, as more and more massive projects are implemented," Rumaihi predicted.
He added that several projects are under discussion now between Bahrain and China, including the opening of a two-way direct flight between the two countries in the coming years.
Paul Smith, president of U.S.-based Chartered Financial Analyst Institute, a membership organization of global investment professionals, told Xinhua that the initiative could stabilize countries in the Middle East like Syria and Turkey plagued by an ongoing refugee crisis, something that would undoubtedly benefit Europe too.