(ECNS) -- A decade on since the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was announced in 2013, it has galvanized nearly $1 trillion of investment globally and created more than 3,000 projects and 420,000 jobs for participating countries, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a daily press conference on Thursday.
According to World Bank data, the BRI will help lift nearly 40 million people out of poverty globally in the mid to long term, Wang said.
Situated at the intersection between the land and maritime Silk Roads, ASEAN countries are the priority and play a key role in high-quality BRI cooperation. The China-ASEAN Belt and Road cooperation has been going full steam and delivering fruitful results.
In January this year, the number of vehicles passing through Cambodia’s Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway hit the one million mark. Thanks to the expressway, the travel time between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville was cut from more than five hours to within two hours.
Passenger and freight services have been booming on the China-Laos Railway since it was open to traffic 18 months ago. The railway has carried 16.4 million passengers and 21 million tonnes of cargo. It plays an increasingly important role as a golden route for transportation.
The Jakarta-Bandung High-speed Railway in Indonesia will soon be up and running. Major projects are well underway, including the new international land-sea corridor, China-Thailand Railway and the East Coast Rail Link in Malaysia. People in China and Southeast Asian countries are more closely connected than ever by these roads and ports.
With RCEP having entered into force, trade between China and ASEAN countries exceeded RMB 6.52 trillion last year, up by 15 percent year-on-year, the spokesperson said.
He noted that China and ASEAN have been each other’s biggest trading partners for three consecutive years. In the first five months this year, ASEAN remained China’s biggest trading partner with two-way trade reaching RMB 2.59 trillion, up 9.9 percent year-on-year. China-ASEAN trade has shown strong resilience and momentum of growth, which effectively enhanced regional economic integration, kept global industrial and supply chains stable and sound and injected new impetus for regional and global economic recovery.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of President Xi Jinping’s proposal of building a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future.
Wang said China stands ready to further synergize the BRI and the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025, cement the good momentum of cooperation, promote high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, realize connectivity at a higher level and make the pie of China-ASEAN cooperation even bigger. It will continue to deepen our comprehensive strategic partnership and build a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future.