By Chen Tianhao
(ECNS)-- The year 2023 marks the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). After the development of over a decade, the BRI has become an open, inclusive, and win-win platform for international cooperation welcomed by the global community. During an interview with China News Network, Erik Solheim, former UN Environment Executive Director and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, spoke highly of the BRI, noting that many significant projects have taken place thanks to the BRI, therefore benefiting people all over the planet.
In Solhelm's opinion, the BRI has made massive contributions to the development of many participating countries. "10 years ago, it took maybe two hours to travel from the airport in Colombo to the capital city of Sri Lanka, Colombo. Now half an hour, on Chinese-built roads," said Solheim, "These roads go on massive services to Sri Lanka."
He added that China is now the biggest trade partner with a vast majority of nations in the world, so every nation is eager to increase its trade with China to benefit economically.
Rail transportation construction has been one of the focus of BRI cooperation. Solheim listed some projects including the Kunming-Vientiane Railway, Jarkata-Bandung Railway, Hanoi Metro, etc. and praised their significance in linking the inland area to the coast to boost the local tourism industry and make export and economic development much easier. "To establish modern time Silk Road, it's of course about making high-speed rail and good connectivity, making it easy to sell goods," Solheim explained, "So the BRI has definitely contributed to that, and we need to take this to the rest of the world."
BRI's development over the past decade has demonstrated that it is not only an initiative of economic prosperity, but one of green development. "Now all BRI energy investments go into solar, wind and hydropower, so I think the BRI is now one of the massive opportunities for green investments in the world," Solheim said.
In addition, Solheim also emphasized China's achievements in electric vehicles (EVs), saying it is "very smart economics and also good for Mother Earth."
"There is also an increasing focus on a digital Belt and Road," Solheim noted, adding that Chinese investments in 5G and artificial intelligence can benefit other nations that are left behind in these areas.
As the BRI gains momentum and progress, some Western media have been trying to stigmatize the BRI cooperation. On this, Solheim said, "Blaming China's BRI for debt burden is completely untrue. That is American propaganda because America feels threatened by the rise of China, so we see so much untrue and fake news about China coming up from American sources."
"Such propaganda should simply stop," Solheim added, saying "We need more, not less, cooperation to address challenges including global economic recovery and climate change, and the BRI has contributed to investments, trade and people-to-people contacts, and provided solutions to those challenges."
"After all, the whole universe is born family," Solheim concluded.