Executive Intelligence Review


China Renews Offer to Europe for Belt and Road Cooperation, ‘A Global Public Good’

March 17, 2018 (EIRNS)—In an article published on the Euractiv media network on March 15, Chinese Ambassador to the European Union Zhang Ming wrote that “Governments of 11 EU member states have signed BRI cooperation documents with the Chinese government,” and that the EU’s foreign trade will increase by 6% because of the Belt and Road Initiative, according to the Brussels-based economic think tank Bruegel.

“The China-Europe express freight trains are busy traveling across the Eurasian continent. In 2017, a total of 3,673 trips were made, up by 116% from 2016 and exceeding the total number combined during the past six years. The train services reach 36 European cities in 13 countries and make the access of European goods to the Chinese market much easier.

“In addition, a great number of projects are well underway, such as infrastructure, logistics, ports, e-commerce and finance. For instance, in Serbia, a Chinese enterprise bought a troubled steel mill and turned it around in less than a year. In Greece, the Port of Piraeus regained its position as one of the largest ports in Europe. In the United Kingdom, China is partnering with France to build a nuclear power plant, a stellar example of tripartite cooperation under the Initiative,”

Ambassador Zhang explained.

However, according to Zhang, the potential of the Belt and Road Initiative will be brought to the full only when all players come to realize its importance and take part in it in an unbiased way. To that end, he reasserted three basic facts:

  1. this is not a unilateral strategy or China’s “Marshall Plan,” as some have called it, but it “aims to promote economic cooperation through infrastructure connectivity, and to bring about common development by leveraging the comparative strengths of all participants. As a global public good, the Initiative follows the golden rule of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits.”

  2. This is not a one-way street allowing only China to export its technologies and manpower. Rather, it is based on wide consultation and communication. “All Belt and Road projects have to go through well-informed feasibility studies conducted by interested parties, and must follow market principles and international rules. All projects must be results-oriented, high-standard and sustainable. Our goal is not only to strengthen the physical connectivity of infrastructure, but also to improve the institutional connectivity of rules and standards.”

  3. The BRI “is such a great undertaking that it has to involve many participants, including those from Europe. While each participant comes from different backgrounds and has different needs, we respect such diversity and value flexibility in our cooperation instead of insisting on uniformity.”

Though formulated politely, the message to the EU and its uniformity obsession is clear.

“We remain committed to partnering with our European friends in an open spirit. Let’s consult, contribute and share together to make a success of the Belt and Road Initiative,”

he concluded.