Belt and Road Initiative Helped Keep Asia-Europe Ties Intact Amid Ukraine Crisis: Researcher

Sputnik, November 18, 2022 — Xi Jinping has announced that China may host another Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in 2023 to “give new impetus to the development and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region and the whole world.” The Belt and Road (aka One Belt, One Road) is a massive, global logistics and infrastructure concept worth up to $3.7 trillion.
The news that China may hold a third Belt and Road Forum is important, as the ambitious, gargantuan infrastructure program has proven its worth in a time of crisis, says Chen Fengying, a research fellow at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.

“I think that the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative will aid to the building of bridges between Asia and the rest of the world. For example, the results of the initiatives have recently been reflected in relations between China and the European Union. After the Russia-Ukraine conflict broke out, some European countries became prejudiced toward China, with Sino-European relations hitting their worst-ever level in March. However, German Chancellor [Olaf] Scholz recently visited China and urged [Europe] not to separate from China, and French President Emmanuel Macron has also announced plans to visit China,” Chen explained. These efforts at rapprochement are attributable at least in part to the Belt and Road, the researcher reasons.

The opening of the Jakarta-Bandung railway is another example of how the Belt and Road Initiative helps regional economies, the researcher said.
“Such economic ties can play an important role in overcoming some of the stereotypes and differences between countries. If China holds a third Belt and Road Forum in 2023, I believe many countries will want to take part, because such cooperation is beneficial for everyone,” Chen said.
The Jakarta-Bangdung high-speed railway is being built with Chinese technology and equipment. The railway, connecting Indonesia’s capital to Bandung, a major city in West Java province, is expected to be fully completed by 2023, and has been hailed in Chinese and Indonesian media as a landmark Belt and Road Initiative project.
At the G20 Summit in Bali, the US and its European allies pledged a five-year, $600 billion scheme consisting of both state and private money which mounts a direct challenge to the Belt and Road Initiative, promising to spend lavishly on energy networks, port infrastructure, roads and rail in developing countries. Skeptics have dismissed the promises made by developed nations as a “song” that’s been “heard…many times before,” and pointed to years of similar promises made to low and middle income countries in previous years that have never gone anywhere.
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 21: U.S. President Joe Biden arrives to speak about Covid-19 vaccines for children, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on June 21, 2022 in Washington, DC. - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.06.2022

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Chen believes Western countries’ opposition to the Belt and Road is related to concerns over competition with Beijing, but says that working together would prove more beneficial.
“Today, one Belt, One road requires a lot of investment, and many countries involved in the initiative are experiencing a shortage of funds. If developed countries show interest, they can increase their investments in the region and thus create healthy competition, which would have a positive effect on regional economic development,” she said.
Workers install wires on a 'Golden Bridge of Silk Road' structure on a platform outside the National Convention Center, the venue which will hold the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, in Beijing - Sputnik International, 1920, 28.06.2022

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The first Belt and Road Forum was held in 2017, five years after the ambitious infrastructure scheme was unveiled in 2013. The second event was held in 2019.
Over $1.3 trillion is expected to be spent by 2027 on the ambitious China-led plan to improve existing infrastructure and create new trade and transport corridors connecting more than 60 countries across Asia, Africa and Europe. GIS Reports has estimated that some $3.7 billion could be spent on over 2,600 Belt and Road projects overall.

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