Belt and Road Initiative enhances regional economic integration in Asia: experts

Nepal-India-China_986223544KATHMANDU, May 22 (Xinhua) — The One Belt and One Road Initiative will enhance cooperation and regional economic integration in the South Asia region, experts said here in Kathmandu on Sunday.

Speaking at a seminar entitled “Community of Common Destiny under Belt and Road Initiative in South Asia” organized by Xinhua News Agency Kathmandu Bureau and Asia Pacific Daily, Nepal’s Former Ambassador to Japan, Bishnu Hari Nepal, said that the unprecedented One Belt and One Road Initiative will greatly benefit neighboring countries like India and Nepal of South Asia region if they join hands with this initiative.

“This is a mega vision introduced by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 which promotes economic cooperation among different countries of the world spanning from Asia, Europe to Africa. For countries like Nepal and India, this initiative is highly important as its primary objective is to create win-win situation to achieve economic prosperity through enhancing road and rail connectivity,” the former diplomat said.

He was of the view that as an emerging economy of the world, India should participate in the Belt and Road Initiative, saying that India’s role is crucial and important in enhancing regional economic integration in South Asia.

“India should work closely with China to collaborate and push forward the One Belt and One Road Initiative instead of being skeptical. This initiative should be taken as a new opportunity for the South Asia region,” he said.

Highlighting the importance of Belt and Road Initiative, Editor-in-Chief of the Rising Nepal Yubanath Lamshal, who is also an expert on China-Nepal relations, said that the initiative promotes regional connectivity and peace among the various regions of the world.

“Belt and Road Initiative is an innovative marshal plan introduced by China to promote economic cooperation, sustainable peace and modernization of the entire world,” he said.

Talking about potential areas of cooperation on regional connectivity between the China and South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC), he suggested that the SAARC countries should invite China as a member of the SAARC.

“China has been as an observer of the SAARC over the years. Since China has made such a rapid progress with such new initiatives like One Belt and One Road, the SAARC countries should invite China as the member of SAARC and collaborate in the promotion of the regional connectivity in the Asia region,” he added.

Associate Professor of China’s Chonqing Normal University, Hou Wanchun, was of the view that the initiative aims to develop a community of common destiny among the Asian neighboring countries and realize the dream of creating the Asian Century.

“This initiative seeks to enhance mutual cooperation on various fields including economic, security and cultural front among regions of the world including the South Asia,” he said, adding that China wants to closely work with all countries of the world to promote people-to-people contacts among these countries.

On the occasion, Shreedhar Gautam, Secretary General of the Council of World Affairs, one of the influential think-tank of Nepal, said that the One Belt and One Road initiative envisioned by the Chinese leadership aims to achieve world peace and prosperity by creating win-win situation in the world.

The Chinese leadership has given priority to its neighbors in its foreign policy based on the five principles of peaceful co-existence, he said, adding that this peripheral policy, which emphasizes on strong cooperation with neighbors, is highly important for countries like Nepal.

He urged India to join hands with China’s One Belt and One Road, saying that this initiative should not be taken as strategic tool of China to make influence in the region.

Presenting a paper at the seminar, Zhang Shubin, Deputy Director at the Nepal Study Center with China’s Heibei University, stressed the trilateral cultural and economic partnership among China, Nepal and India.

Experts also put emphasis on involvement of Bhutan and Nepal in the proposed Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor.

Foreign affairs experts and journalists from Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Nepal were participants of the seminar.

There have been many discussions on the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative in the Himalayan country following an official visit of Nepalese Prime Minister KP Sharma to China from in March this year. The two countries agreed to enhance rail and road connectivity during the prime minister’s trip.


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