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Special> Boao Forum for Asia 2015> Latest News
UPDATED: March 27, 2015
'Belt and Road' No Tools of Geopolitics

The "Belt and Road" initiatives, a key topic for the 2015 Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) as it opens on Thursday in Hainan, are a product of inclusive cooperation, not a tool of geopolitics.

However, there are observers with an outdated Cold War mentality who claim that the Silk Road Economic Belt and The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Asian infrastructure networks are instruments for China to boost its political influence.

These views are either ill-intended or lacking in research in an age of globalization. In essence, the "Belt and Road" are original Chinese concepts aimed at improved cooperation with Asia, Europe and Africa and building a community of common interests.

The ideas were timely when proposed by China in 2013, because attempts to build mutual trust and common prosperity in the region have faced challenges in recent years for complex reasons including differences in political systems and cultural traditions.

A recent BFA report said the effects of the Asia "miracle" of high growth and robust trade are ebbing fast. Economic indicators show an uncertain future for Asia as economic integration dawdles.

Asia's goods trade grew only at the global average in 2013, while growth of services fell below the world average, the report said.

Given the situation, regional integration must be accelerated and no Asian nation must be left behind. There are strong reasons for an inclusive Asian community where all members seek cooperation, not least because they are geographically close to each other.

That's why the four-day BFA this year is themed "Asia's New Future: Toward a Community of Common Destiny".

Understanding the origin of the initiatives will also help in grasping their nature of creating a win-win situation.

The ideas involve a reinvigoration of the ancient Silk Road trade network, which had a history of more than 2,000 years and was used by people of many countries for friendly exchange and commerce.

Noting there is a huge gap between infrastructure demand and the limited resources available for many Asian nations to pool, China is willing to share its infrastructure expertise and experience accumulated over decades with its neighbors.

Statistics from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) show that between 2010 and 2020, around $8 trillion of investment will be needed in the Asia-Pacific region to improve its infrastructure. However, the ADB is only able to provide about $10 billion annually for this cause.

The hunger for funding will be much alleviated after the China-proposed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) starts operating before the end of the year as a key pillar to finance the initiatives along with a $40-billion Silk Road Fund.

The inclusiveness of the AIIB, which has received applications from Britain, Germany and France to be founding members, is evidence of China's sincerity in promoting common development in the region.

Given the attractiveness of the AIIB, nations in Asia should take immediate action to embrace the Belt and Road plan in good faith.

(Xinhua News Agency March 26, 2015)

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