It is a great pleasure of mine to attend today’s “Contours of Belt & Road Initiative for South Asia” seminar. On behalf of Chinese Embassy in Nepal, I would like to express our appreciation to Nepal China Friendship Forum for their efforts to arrange this event for the scholars from Nepal, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh to discuss on how to further the cooperation between China and South Asia under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.
The initiative of building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road was put forward by President Xi Jinping in 2013. In the past four years, guided by the principle of achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration, with the joint efforts of all the participant parties, the vision of the Belt and Road Initiative has turned into reality. Even more, Belt and Road Initiative has entered into a new stage of implementation in an all-around way.
The participant parties are working together for the goal of connectivity in terms of policy, infrastructure, trade, finance and people-to-people bond and to build a community of common interests, common future and common responsibility by enhancing political mutual trust, economic integration and cultural inclusiveness. In May this year, the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation was successfully held in Beijing.The forum gives a clearer direction of cooperation and specific roadmap for further development of the Belt and Road Initiative and decides a batch of key projects for the Initiative, which manifests that the Belt and Road Imitative is an initiative of action with strong actual effect.
The report of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China highlights that the CPC shall pursue the Belt and Road Initiative as a priority and it is even incorporated into the Constitution of CPC that China will pursue the Belt and Road Initiative following the principle of achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration. This is the solemn commitment that China has made to promote common development for the world by further enhancing Belt and Road International cooperation.
South Asia has a population of over 1.7 billion, accounting for a fifth of the whole population of the world. South Asia enjoys rich human resources, great potential market, superb geographic location and bountiful natural resources. China shares 5000 kilometers border with countries in South Asia, thus the western part of China and South Asia shares great potential of road connectivity. China and all South Asian countries are developing countries, and we are similar in development stage, close in desire for development and complementary in development advantages, which provide a great potential for cooperation.
Promoted by the Belt and Road Initiative, we have achieved progress on the construction of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and BCIM Economic Corridor and are revealing a pattern of joint contribution and cooperation among China and South Asian countries supported by ports, roads, bridges, industrial zones, cross-border economic cooperation zones etc. Since the Belt and Road Initiative was proposed, the trade between China and South Asian countries has grown steadily. The trade volume in 2016 exceeded 110 billion US dollars, an increase of 14.8% than that in 2013. Direct investment of China to South Asia in 2016 reached 1.46 billion US dollars, increased by 114.7% compared to that in 2013. China now is one of the major investors in South Asia.
In South Asian countries, there is a huge demand for infrastructure and investment, including power supply, communication, road construction and so on. There is great potential on project contracting cooperation between China and South Asian countries. The speedy development of free trade zones and overseas cooperation zones has contributed a lot to local income and employment.
We are looking forward to finishing the feasibility study of China-Nepal Free Trade Agreement within this year. Recently, China-South Asia Expo was held in Nepal for the first time, manifesting new endeavor of China to strengthen its economic and trade links with South Asian countries. Cultural exchanges among China and South Asian countries are growing rapidly. Exchanges among scholars, think tanks, media, youth, women and students are increasingly active. Exchanges in personnel remark an obvious increase. Take Nepal as an example, from January to September this year, the amount of Chinese tourists visiting Nepal increased by 60% compared with the same period of last year.
China has not only benefited from economic globalization but also contributed to it. The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China confirmed once again that China will adhere to the fundamental national policy of opening-up and will actively promote international cooperation with the Belt and Road Initiative as an emphasis in order to introduce a new pattern of overall opening. Thus China will provide vaster market, more sufficient capital, more abundant products and more valuable opportunities for cooperation to all the countries in the world. In November of 2018, China will hold the first China International Import Expo in Shanghai. We welcome active participation of South Asian countries.
China will further deepen relations with its neighbors in accordance with the principle of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit, and inclusiveness and the policy of forging friendship and partnership with its neighbors. We will continue to enhance mutual trust with South Asian countries, promote cooperation and regional economy, share developing benefits and build a community of shared future with other countries. It is my sincere hope that scholars and experts present today may offer more suggestions and advice to the topic of the Belt and Road Initiative with South Asia which will help to promote the cooperation between China and South Asia.
Wish the seminar a success!
Remarks by Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Yu Hong at the Opening Ceremony of the “Contours of the Belt & Road Initiative for South Asia” organized by Nepal China Friendship Forum on 13 Nov. 2017.