GRASSLAND SCENERY: A Kazak woman makes woolen cords in Altay Prefecture, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (WANG FEI)
Mohamed Noman Galal, a senior Egyptian diplomat, said that the Silk Road Economic Belt will contribute in an innovative way to developing China and the world at the same time. "The Arab countries are in a state of unrest, needing Chinese support and help. China needs Arab gas and oil as well as Arabic financial resources and access to Arabic markets."
Robert Lawrence Kuhn, Chairman of the Kuhn Foundation, found that the strategic conception fits well with China's overall foreign policies, and gives new impetus to the task of creating a new world order.
A major challenge to the proposed belt is that those Chinese cities along it are underdeveloped, necessitating hefty input in terms of infrastructure construction.
Yang Shu, Director of Institute for Central Asian Studies at Lanzhou University in Gansu Province, held that the less developed economy and low population density in the cities represent major roadblocks.
"The Chinese Government should decide the roles of these provinces along the belt by taking into consideration their advantages and development status," said Sun Zhuangzhi, Secretary General of the Center for Shanghai Cooperation Organization Studies.
Sun noted that China should not exclusively focus on its own needs of industrial upgrading from a unilateral perspective, but also take into account other countries' economic strategies. In this way, the economic belt will generate synergy. Most countries involved are experiencing economic restructuring in the hopes of realizing rapid growth and obtaining international financial support.
"China should not merely view its Central Asian partners as energy bases," Sun told Beijing Review, citing the fact that some of these countries have tried to seek growth momentum in non-energy sectors, and China should extend its support to help them achieve these goals.
Kuhn suggested that cultural tolerance and diversity be essential to the success of the Silk Road Economic Belt, and that all countries in the region contribute toward common objectives.
However, the biggest problems currently are how to balance the needs of different countries and seek intersecting points of interests, as well as how to acquire enough financial support to realize all-round interconnection.
"According to rough calculations, the interconnection of infrastructure alone will require 8 trillion yuan ($1.27 trillion)," said Liu, who listed drug smuggling, social unrest and historical grudges as challenges faced in pushing forward regional integration.
"The Silk Road Economic Belt is targeted at further carrying out the cause of opening up and reform. In the process, China needs to avoid risks, elevate development quality, and strive for common prosperity. After all, regional cooperation is a major trend in today's world," said Sun.
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