10 years on: BRI tones up new pattern of globalization

By Yasir Habib Khan | Gwadar Pro Jun 25, 2023

Editor's Note: The author is President of the Institute of International Relations and Media Research (IIRMR). The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of Gwadar Pro.

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is marking its first decade with flying colors by toning up a new pattern of global connectivity and economic development.

Launched in 2013,  BRI has evolved into a comprehensive framework encompassing infrastructure development, trade facilitation, financial cooperation, and cultural exchanges across Asia, Europe, Africa, and beyond. As we reflect on its journey so far, it becomes evident that BRI carries both regional and international indispensability, with the potential to anchor economic miracles, adapt to challenges, and contribute to sustainable development.

So far, China has inked more than 200 BRI cooperation agreements with 151 countries and 32 international organizations.

As economic globalization is reeling with unseen upheavals and global economic recovery is in deep water, BRI’s global aura becomes a silver lining showing a more important role in boosting the economic growth of relevant countries and regions.

BRI plays a crucial role in advancing world progress by fostering economic development, promoting trade, and enhancing cultural understanding. Through massive investments in infrastructure projects, including roads, railways, ports, and energy facilities, BRI creates new opportunities for economic growth and job creation. By improving connectivity and reducing logistical bottlenecks, the initiative facilitates the movement of goods and services, enabling businesses to expand their reach and access new markets.

A research report released by the World Bank in 2019 showed that transportation infrastructure projects under BRI, if fully implemented, would generate $1.6 trillion in benefits annually in global revenue by 2030 — accounting for 1.3 percent of global GDP. BRI was proposed by China, yet it generates opportunities and benefits for the entire world.

For example, the China-Europe railway connects Chinese cities to Poland, Germany, and other European countries, and 16,000 freight trains operated in both directions last year.  

In the science and education sector, the Chinese Academy of Sciences has established 10 overseas science and education centers, launched more than 100 research collaboration projects with BRI countries, and trained nearly 5,000 high-level scientists.

One of the remarkable characteristics of  BRI is its adaptability to evolving challenges and its commitment to resilience and sustainability. Recognizing the importance of addressing environmental concerns, BRI has incorporated the concept of the Green Silk Road, emphasizing ecological cooperation, clean energy, and sustainable development. Efforts are being made to prioritize environmentally friendly infrastructure projects, promote green finance, and ensure that environmental considerations are integrated into the planning and implementation processes.

BRI promotes green, sustainable development. It encourages cooperation in green infrastructure, green energy, and green finance, aligning with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The initiative also emphasizes collaboration in public health, with China and its BRI partners working together to combat and prevent epidemics, enhance public health research and development, and improve global public health governance.

In terms of resilience, BRI has shown its ability to adapt to changing circumstances and navigate through geopolitical challenges. It has demonstrated flexibility in responding to feedback and concerns from participating countries and international stakeholders.

The initiative has evolved its project evaluation and risk assessment mechanisms, enhancing transparency, accountability, and governance standards. Through bilateral and multilateral cooperation mechanisms, such as the BRI Forum, participating countries are given a platform to address concerns, share best practices, and build consensus on the way forward.

As China strives to build a modern socialist country, it will continue to promote the Belt and Road cooperation, delivering tangible benefits to people and contributing to global economic recovery. The focus remains on high-quality, sustainable, and mutually beneficial cooperation, fostering a shared future for mankind.

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