What is China’s “Belt and Road” initiatives?

China prioritized tasks for the future of the “Belt and Road” initiatives during the Conference to Promote the Construction of the Belt and Road on Feb. 1.

The list of planned actions includes consultations with countries involved, construction of international economic cooperation corridors and ports, as well as infrastructure projects.

The Silk Road Economic Belt is to be established along the ancient Silk Road trade route, stretching northwest from China’s coastal area through Central Asia, the Middle East and on to Europe, while the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road will run through the country’s south to Southeast Asia.

The following are the major events in the development of China’s “Belt and Road” initiatives so far:

September 2013 — The “Silk Road Economic Belt” concept was initiated by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to Kazakhstan. In a speech delivered at Nazarbayev University, Xi suggested that China and Central Asia join hands to build a Silk Road Economic Belt to boost cooperation. It was the first time Chinese leadership mentioned the strategic vision.


Oct. 3, 2013 — President Xi Jinping proposed to build a more closely-knit China-ASEAN community following a common destiny and provided guidance for constructing a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road to promote maritime cooperation. In his speech at the Indonesian parliament, Xi also proposed to establish the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to finance infrastructure construction and promote regional interconnectivity and economic integration.

November 2013 — The Third Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), a milestone along China’s reform path, called for accelerating the interconnection of infrastructure among neighboring countries, and facilitating the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

December 2013 — President Xi Jinping urged strategic planning of the “Belt and Road” initiatives to promote the interconnection of infrastructure and build a community of common interests at the annual Central Economic Work Conference.

February 2014 — President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, reached a consensus about the construction of the “Belt and Road”, as well as its connection with Russia’s Euro-Asia Railways.

March 2014 — Premier Li Keqiang highlighted acceleration in building the “Belt and Road” in the government work report. The report also promoted balanced development of the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

May 2014 — The first phase of a logistics terminal jointly built by China and Kazakhstan went into operation in the port of Lianyungang in east China’s Jiangsu Province. The terminal, with a total investment of 606 million yuan (98 million U.S. dollars), is seen as a platform for goods from central Asian countries to go overseas and a boost to the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt.

October 2014 — Twenty-one Asian countries willing to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as founding members signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Establishing AIIB. As agreed, Beijing will be the host city for AIIB’s headquarters. The 21 countries are Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, the Philippines, Qatar, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. It is expected that AIIB will be formally established by the end of 2015.

November 2014 — President Xi Jinping announced China will accelerate the construction of the “Belt and Road” and strengthen cooperation with the countries involved. When presiding over the eighth meeting of the Central Leading Group on Financial and Economic Affairs, Xi announced that China will contribute 40 billion U.S. dollars to set up the Silk Road Fund. During the Beijing APEC meetings, Xi announced that the fund will be used to provide investment and financing support to carry out infrastructure, resources, industrial cooperation, financial cooperation and other projects related to connectivity for countries along the “Belt and Road”.

December 2014 — The Central Economic Work Conference sketched out priorities for the coming year, which include the implementation of “Belt and Road” initiatives. Earlier in the month, Thailand approved a draft memorandum of understanding between Thailand and China on railway cooperation.

January 2015 — The number of AIIB founding members, many of whom are important countries along the Silk Road routes, rose to 26, after New Zealand, Maldives, Saudi Arabia and Tajikistan officially joined.

Feb. 1, 2015 — A conference focused on the “Belt and Road” initiatives was held in which Chinese leaders sketched out priorities for the initiatives, highlighting transport infrastructure building, investment and trade facilitation, financial cooperation and cultural exchanges.

(Source: Xinhua News Agency)


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