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Swiss official says Belt, Road inspires big plans

Luo Weiting and Chen Weihua
Updated: Apr 22,2017 9:29 AM     China Daily

The implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative is expected to get another boost as senior officials of Switzerland, a leading world financial center, and the World Bank vowed to strengthen cooperation with China on the massive project.

Switzerland is looking to sharpen its edge as a financial center with a proactive role in the initiative, said Swiss Finance Minister Ueli Maurer.

“The initiative stands as one of the most important infrastructure projects across the world, not for me but for my grandchildren,” said Maurer.

He said he believed Switzerland has what it takes to support the huge ribbon of newly developed infrastructure that is well underway with the Belt and Road Initiative.

Such a massive trade and infrastructure project, which will take a generation to come true and yield its full benefits, “really drives us to aim high and plan big, with a long-term vision at least 20 or 30 years ahead”, he said.

Maurer made the remarks on April 19 while leading a high-level Swiss delegation with major figures from the country’s flagship financial institutions on a visit to Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Singapore and Hong Kong.

“Switzerland is always well-positioned to partner with China. … With so many countries coming to China seeking collaborations, how can we afford to be left behind?” Maurer said.

In a sign of the country’s determination to get on board, President of the Swiss Federation Doris Leuthard has confirmed that she will attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing on May 14 and 15.

At least 28 heads of state and government will attend the forum, the highest-profile international meeting on the Belt and Road Initiative since President Xi Jinping proposed it in 2013.

Meanwhile, Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank, also praised the initiative on April 20 during a news conference of the 2017 IMF/World Bank annual spring meeting in Washington, DC.

Kim said the World Bank is working closely with the Chinese government on the initiative and will continue to do so. “The initiative is an extremely important one for the Chinese government and also for us,” said Kim, who also plans to attend the Belt and Road forum in May.

“Not only are we engaged, for example, in a major study with China right now on the drivers of China’s future economic growth, but we’re partnering with the AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank) already,” he said.

“Our engagement both with the Chinese government and with Chinese efforts at development, both through their own bilateral cooperation, but also through AIIB, will only grow going into the future,” said Kim.