Infrastructure connectivity, a priority of the Belt and Road Initiative, has already made great achievements, said Li Xiaopeng, China’s minister of transport.
In the past six years, the China-proposed BRI has transferred the vision into concrete projects. The cooperation mechanisms for infrastructure among countries involved in the initiative has been greatly improved, Li said during the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing.
During the forum on April 25, 35 agreements involving transportation, energy and communication infrastructure were signed among countries involved in the BRI, he said.
In the past six years, Li said, China has signed 18 agreements facilitating road transportation and 39 agreements boosting maritime transportation with countries involved in the BRI. It has signed bilateral air transport agreements with 62 countries, realized direct flights with 45 countries, and signed postal cooperation agreements with 21 countries, he said.
A large number of infrastructure projects have also been carried out around the world, covering sectors such as railway, highway, harbors, airports and pipelines. These projects include the first cross-sea bridge in the Maldives and the first expressway in East Africa.
The China-Europe freight trains, a significant part of the BRI, have made more than 14,000 trips since March 2011 when they started. The cross-border rail network has now reached 49 cities in 15 European countries, Li said.
The BRI has adhered to the principle of sharing benefits, he said, which makes people in countries involved in the BRI willing to join in and feel happy.
“Every new transportation line carries ordinary people’s dreams for a better-off life,” he said, adding that in Africa, the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway, which connects the Kenyan capital of Nairobi and East Africa’s largest port Mombasa, has provided about 50,000 jobs to locals.
“With infrastructure connectivity being strengthened, people-to-people exchanges will also become more frequent, which will bring more opportunities to countries involved in the BRI,” he said.
Omar Ayub Khan, minister of power of Pakistan, said that the BRI has strengthened infrastructure connectivity around the world, which could help many underdeveloped countries get out of poverty and improve the living standards of their people.
Apart from transportation connectivity, he wishes to see more cooperation with China in the energy sector, especially in renewables such as solar energy.
“I’m confident that the BRI will successfully influence the life of following generations,” he said. “It is not only a vision, it is definitely becoming a reality.”
Roman Sklyar, minister of industry and infrastructure development of Kazakhstan, said that infrastructure connectivity is essential to economic development, and the country has put more than $30 billion into infrastructure development.
To strengthen connectivity with China, Kazakhstan and China have co-built the China-Kazakhstan Horgos International Border Cooperation Center, a cross-border free-trade zone, which has attracted more than 70 companies from Kazakhstan. He said that Kazakhstan has its own national economic development plan, which he hopes will be able to be connected to the BRI.