COMMENT: By Wu Xi, Chinese Ambassador to New Zealand
Nearly 5,000 guests from more than 150 countries and more than 90 international organisations are attending the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing.
This year's theme is "Belt and Road Cooperation, Shaping a Brighter Shared Future".
The Forum will serve as a great opportunity for people in New Zealand and around the world to have a better understanding of what the Belt and Road Initiative is all about and how New Zealand can benefit from the BRI cooperation.
What is Belt and Road Initiative?
Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is an international economic cooperation initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013, in order to enhance both China's development and its cooperation with global partners.
The BRI aims to enhance connectivity in policy, infrastructure, trade, finance and people-to-people ties, to provide new impetus to world economic growth. It is guided by the principle of consultation and cooperation for shared benefits.
The world today is experiencing profound changes unseen in a century. Protectionism and unilateralism are rising, so are uncertainties and destabilising factors. BRI shows China's commitment to further deepening reform and opening-up and sharing development opportunities and outcomes with more countries in the world.
The BRI represents a major breakthrough in both theory and practice on international cooperation, and it carries far-reaching significance.
Since its inception, the BRI has received strong endorsement and warm support of the international community. So far, a total of 126 countries and 29 international organizations have signed BRI cooperation documents with China, including New Zealand.
Meanwhile, the BRI vision has been included in documents of major international institutions including the United Nations, the G20, etc.
Looking back on the development of the BRI, it has opened a new area for international cooperation and boosted confidence in it.
It has created new impetus and opportunities for global growth and provides a new platform and new opportunities for fostering closer ties between countries.
With joint efforts from all parties, the BRI will help move economic globalisation toward greater openness, inclusiveness, balance and win-win outcomes.
How does BRI promote international cooperation?
President Xi has emphasised on various occasions that while the BRI is launched by China, its benefits should be shared by the world. Cooperation under the BRI has seen major progress and proved more fruitful than planned since its inception.
First,there is growing complementarity between the BRI and development plans and policies of various parties.
At the global level, the BRI is well aligned with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. At the regional level, the BRI connects regional or state development plans and cooperation initiatives.
Second, the BRI has boosted global connectivity. The joint endeavor to promote the BRI has deepened international cooperation on physical connectivity within the basic framework of "six economic corridors, six connectivity networks, and multiple countries and ports in different parts of the world". It has also strengthened cooperation on institutional connectivity including policies, rules and standards.
Third, the international platform for Belt and Road cooperation has been steadily strengthened. The BRF is the highest-level platform for Belt and Road cooperation where all parties concerned meet to build consensus and adopt plans for future cooperation. A BRF Advisory Council consisting of leading international figures has been set up to provide advice on the growth of the Forum.
Fourth, the BRI has delivered fruitful outcomes in boosting economic growth and improving people's lives in participating countries. There are so many stories of success.
All of the above fully demonstrate that the BRI has provided good opportunities for all parties involved to jointly address global
challenges, promote global growth, and achieve common prosperity through greater connectivity. But this is only the beginning, and there is a lot more can be accomplished by pursuing this cooperation initiative. China will continue to work with all other parties to create greater opportunities and deliver even more fruitful outcomes.
How New Zealand could benefit from BRI?
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and New Zealand, enormous achievements have been made in bilateral cooperation in various fields.
We have seen continued strengthening of trade, investment and people-to-people links. We have enjoyed an impressive list of 'firsts' in China's relations with developed countries.
All of the above lays a solid foundation for practical cooperation between China and New Zealand on BRI.
New Zealand has long supported the BRI and participated in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. China and New Zealand signed BRI Memorandum of Agreement in 2017 during Premier Li Keqiang's official visit to New Zealand.
During Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's successful visit to China in early April, the two sides have reached broad consensus to promote China-New Zealand comprehensive strategic partnership, which includes deepening the cooperation in the BRI.
China and New Zealand are highly complementary in economy. China stands ready to synergise the BRI with development strategies of New Zealand, broaden minds, tap into the potential and promote the development of bilateral economic and trade cooperation, so as to make the pie of cooperation bigger.
As the report by New Zealand China Council has pointed out, BRI is a historic opportunity for countries like New Zealand, which are highly dependent on free trade and overseas markets.
Based on New Zealand's advantages and from the perspective of New Zealand, the report proposes to actively participate in BRI cooperation in four priority areas of trade facilitation, linking hub for Asia-South America, innovation and creativity. All of these provides greater potential and inspirations on how New Zealand could benefit from BRI.
What kind of cooperation New Zealand and China could have under the BRI?
On policy coordination, both China and New Zealand firmly supports multilateralism and free trade. We should enhance cooperation in this regard by jointly striving for an open world economy and uphold multilateralism and mutilateral trading regime.
On infrastructure connectivity, in light of New Zealand and China Council's suggestions, the two sides could explore the possibility of making New Zealand the hub for air and sea transportation between China and South America.
On unimpeded trade, China and New Zealand have agreed to speed up negotiations on the upgrade of bilateral Free Trade Agreement. The upgraded FTA will unleash more cooperation
dividends for the business community. China would also like to work with New Zealand and other parties to push forward negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
On financial cooperation, a Memorandum of Arrangement on Bilateral Financial Dialogue was signed during Prime Minister Ardern's recent visit to China. This will serve as a platform for the financial cooperation between our two countries. We could explore more financing models to enhance bilateral practical cooperation.
On people-to-people exchanges, we should further enhance exchanges and cooperation in areas of education, culture and tourism. We should take joint efforts and make the 2019 Year of Tourism a great success.
The BRI is an open, inclusive and transparent platform for joint economic development. All parties involved are equal participants, contributors and beneficiaries. There is no uniform model for how each party should carry out cooperation under it.
Each participant can find its own conjunction point between its development strategy and the BRI.
China would like to strengthen communication and coordination of economic policy and development strategy with New Zealand, to carry out more pragmatic cooperation under BRI, bringing more benefits to the two countries and two peoples.
- Wu Xi is Chinese Ambassador to New Zealand.