People’s Daily published an essay by Vice-Minister of Commerce Li Jinzao on Aug 12, about how to cooperate to build the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
The strategic vision for building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, described by Comrade Xi Jinping, aims to promote the country’s opening up — to the continent in the west and to the sea in east — and also provides opportunities to countries along the planned economic belt and the maritime Silk Road to strengthen cooperation to further their development.
Countries along the economic belt and maritime Silk Road should aim for more openness and tolerance, as well as mutually beneficial cooperation — in order to realize this great strategic vision and turn the blueprints into reality — and various parties in China should participate actively.
Comrade Xi Jinping pointed out that the two projects are win-win ways to achieve mutual benefit, and will merge the economies of different countries more closely, help upgrade the infrastructure in these countries, create new growth momentum and new jobs, and boost domestic demand and ability to ward off risks for their economies.
The development plans of the countries along the economic belt and maritime Silk Road can be combined with the plans for the two projects so that these countries can achieve mutual benefit through cooperation.
China has established joint commissions or mixed commissions for bilateral trade with many countries and areas along the planned economic belt and maritime Silk Road. We should make good use of the commissions by strengthening communication with these countries, and make plans to cooperate in trade and industry with the countries who are interested in such cooperation. We can also enhance cooperation with organizations focusing on trade and investment promotion, and guilds and chambers of commerce in these countries.
“There are almost 3 billion people living along the Silk Road Economic Belt. The scale and the potential of the market is unique. There is a huge potential for cooperation in trade and investment for countries along the economic belt. Each party should discuss how to make trade and investment easier, and take appropriate measures to clear trade barriers and lower costs related to trade and investment,” said Comrade Xi Jinping.
The projects concern routes involving trade and, in recent years, countries along the economic belt and maritime Silk Road are trading more and investing more in each other, but problems — such as many trade barriers — remain. We will enhance our cooperation with these countries, concerning matters such as customs and quarantine, to try to streamline the customs clearance procedure, make technical barriers to trade more transparent and lower the tariff and non-tariff barriers.
We should make it easier for companies in countries along the economic belt and maritime Silk Road to take part in expos — such as the China-ASEAN Expo, China-South Asia Expo, China-Eurasia Expo, China Import and Export Fair and the China International Fair for Investment and Trade. And we should also encourage domestic companies to actively take part in expos held in these countries.
Regional economic integration is a basic requirement and an important element for the construction of the two projects. And it would also be a good idea to push forward Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and negotiations on free trade zones, and set up free trade with more countries and areas along the routes of the projects. China is increasingly investing overseas, and this fact is certainly of interest to these countries — especially those that welcome foreign investment, and are accelerating their industrialization and upgrading their industries.
Some of the countries involved in the two projects have a large labor force and their emerging markets also offer opportunities — and China can thus encourage its domestic companies in light industry, textiles, clothing and building materials to invest and set up factories in these countries. Such initiatives will help lower the cost of production — and also create jobs and tax income and upgrade the industries of these countries.
China could encourage its companies to construct infrastructure, logistics centers and after sales service centers in countries involved in the two projects. China could also strengthen cooperation with these countries in energy, resources and agriculture, and it could establish industrial parks with these countries and attract companies to establish a business in these parks.
Chinese authorities should also aim to attract companies in countries involved in the projects to invest in China, and sign new bilateral investment agreements — or revise existing agreements — with these countries, and also speed up agreements concerning visas, consular protection, legal assistance and cross-border travel, in a bid to encourage Chinese investment in these countries.
Comrade Xi Jinping said that in order for the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road to be successful, China should work together with the concerned countries to create an interconnected infrastructure.
Generally speaking, the infrastructure in countries along the routes of the projects should be more interconnected, as many important roads are unfinished, or of low quality and thus pose serious safety hazards, and some of the countries adopt different technical standards for railways. There are also safety issues related to sea transportation.
We need to solve these problems and build a network of transport that is closely interconnected, convenient, safe and efficient, thus making it easy to transport passengers and cargo.
China and the relevant countries should work more closely to make their own plans and technical standards of transport construction more compatible with each other’s, and to build important roads together. Also, they should cooperate more closely to share information in the field of maritime logistics.
It would be wise for China to encourage its financial institutions to set up branches in countries along the routes of the two projects, and offer services of financing and settlement for domestic companies that invest in these countries. China also encourages reputable companies to focus on domestic and foreign capital markets to support their investment projects in the relevant countries.
There is great potential for Chinese and foreign financial institutions to cooperate in supporting the construction of the economic belt and maritime Silk Road.
We should also strengthen the China-ASEAN Inter-Bank Association and Shanghai Cooperation Organization Inter-Bank Association.
And we should push forward building Asia’s monetary stability system, investment and finance system and the credit system, and enlarge the scale of currency swap and bilateral trade which are settled in the currencies of the countries involved in the two projects.
We should also enhance cooperation in financial regulation with countries along the routes of the two projects, and set up an early warning system for economic and financial risks.
Provinces and cities in China should compete constructively in the development of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. They should find their own strengths and formulate strategies according to their location, resources and economy.
Provinces and cities along China’s border should also be encouraged to build processing centers for exported goods and centers for international logistics and trade, and develop the production and sale of specialty produce, as well as international tourism.
Provinces in inland China with a large labor force and developed industry should focus on attracting investment from foreign companies, and should enhance cooperation concerning customs clearance with provinces along the country’s border, and build a logistics system that links the east and the west of China.
Comrade Xi Jinping said that it would be easier to encourage the relevant countries to take part in initiatives related to the two projects if they can see the practical benefit.
We should launch the initiatives as soon as possible, and we should give priority to those that meet the requirements of different countries and can bring practical benefit within a relatively short period of time.
We should discuss with countries along the routes of the projects how to carry out the various initiatives, and start working on them together. And we should also share the fruits of our success.
We should deepen cooperation in education, culture, tourism and health, and enhance communication between people in the different countries, thus increasing public support for the two projects.
We should seek to promote in the media the initiatives related to the projects that will have a positive effect on economic development and people’s livelihood, encourage various parties to participate in the projects and help countries along the routes of the projects and their people enjoy the benefits of the initiatives.