DONHUANG, Gansu province: China’s grand infrastructure program called the Belt and Road Initiative has turned into concrete plans with growing support of more countries and organizations around the globe, senior Chinese officials said on Tuesday.
Zhang Ping, vice chairman of the standing committee of the 12th National People’s Congress, said the number of countries joining the BRI had grown to 69 and that the United Nations General Assembly had recognized this new vision for global development.
Zhang spoke at the opening ceremonies for the fourth Media Cooperation Forum on the Belt and Road held at Donhuang International Hotel. Twenty-four other officials and media representatives from various countries in Asia and Europe spoke at the forum, which counted over 300 representatives from 265 media organizations in 127 countries across the globe.
The China-led BRI involves several projects that will connect countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe.
Although the Philippines is not on the two major routes in China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative, there is still “plenty of room for cooperation”, said Cao Yuanzheng, chairman of the Bank of China International (BOCI) Research Ltd., in a lecture to journalists in Beijing last week.
Yan Xiaopeng, secretary general of the state-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council, said the BRI already had 1,600 projects in the pipeline and that 140 cooperation agreements had so far been signed.
Also at the opening ceremonies of the Media Cooperation Forum, Zhou Wei, chief engineer and director general for policy research of China’s Ministry of Transportation, said countries should seize the opportunity to usher in a golden era of infrastructure development to further enhance cooperative exchanges.
He said China had already signed 16 bilateral agreements with different countries covering over 4,000 infrastructure projects, including roads, bridges and railways.
“When roads are connected, development will follow,” Zhou said.
Under the BRI is the Silk Road Economic Belt that will connects China through Central Asia, Russia to Europe (Baltic Sea) via two corridors: through Central Asia, West Asia to the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean and to Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Indian Ocean. There is also a 21st-century Maritime Silk Road that starts from Chinese coastal ports to Europe through the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean.
The North-West Silk Road will pass through China, Burma (Myanmar), Bangladesh and India while the South-West route will cut across China and Pakistan to the Middle East.
TITA C. VALDERAMA