This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Just last week, the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) was successfully held in Beijing.
Representatives from 151 countries and 41 international organisations attended the event, and over 10 000 people registered for it. This fully demonstrates the tremendous appeal and global influence of the BRI. It proves once again that Belt and Road has become a road of cooperation, opportunity and prosperity leading to common development, and that it is the world's most popular public product and the largest international cooperation platform.
In his keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the forum, President Xi Jinping reviewed the achievements of Belt and Road cooperation in the past decade. He emphasised that the Belt and Road cooperation is on the right side of history. It represents the advancing of our times, and is the right path forward.
President Xi announced eight major steps to support the joint pursuit of high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, which pointed a new direction for Belt and Road cooperation, injected new momentum to it, and opened up a new vision.
The forum has sent a clear signal of solidarity, cooperation and openness for win-win results. President Xi pointed out that humankind is a community with a shared future, and win-win cooperation is the sure way to success in launching major initiatives that benefit all.
The forum has sent an unequivocal signal to the world that we wish to seek unity, not division; cooperation, not confrontation; openness, not closure; win-win results, not zero-sum games. In the midst of a century of change and chaos, the joint pursuit of Belt and Road cooperation will always bring stability and positive energy to the world.
The forum has brought important consensus on launching a new phase of the joint pursuit of high-quality Belt and Road cooperation. President Xi pointed out that China will work with all parties involved to deepen Belt and Road partnerships of cooperation, and usher this cooperation into a new stage of high-quality development.
This has been positively received and supported by all. We all support the further deepening of connectivity. We advocate accelerated efforts to build the Digital Silk Road and continued efforts in the Green Silk Road. We look forward to advancing practical cooperation in all respects, promoting trade and investment liberalisation and facilitation, and conducting a variety of activities in fields like arts and culture, education, science and technology, tourism, health, and sports.
The forum has formed a grand vision of jointly realising the modernisation of the world. The BRI has created a cooperation platform for common development and helped many developing countries speed up their progress for modernisation. President Xi proposed for the first time that all countries should work together to modernize the world for peaceful development, win-win cooperation and common prosperity.
He also pointed out that the modernization we are pursuing is not for China alone, but for all developing countries through our joint efforts. This grand vision is in line with the concept of building a community with a shared future. It defines the direction for the joint pursuit of high-quality Belt and Road cooperation.
The forum is characterised by its action-oriented, efficient and pragmatic approach. In his speech, President Xi announced eight major steps to support the joint pursuit of high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, including major initiatives such as building a multidimensional Belt and Road connectivity network, promoting green development, and advancing scientific and technological innovation, as well as specific projects such as carrying out practical cooperation, supporting people-to-people exchanges, and strengthening institutional building for international Belt and Road cooperation.
During the forum, 458 outcomes were reached. These include important cooperation initiatives and institutional arrangements such as the Beijing Initiative on Deepening Connectivity Cooperation, the Beijing Initiative on Green Development for Belt and Road, and the Beijing Initiative on International Cooperation in the Digital Economy for Belt and Road.
They also include specific targets such as organising training sessions on green development for 100 000 people in partner countries and expanding the number of joint laboratories to 100 by 2030. Commercial agreements worth USD 97.2 billion were concluded at the CEO Conference, helping to create more jobs and growth in all countries.
In addition, it was decided to establish a secretariat for the BRF, which will serve to facilitate institution building and project implementation.
South Africa was the first African country to sign a Belt and Road MOU with China. The all-round and win-win cooperation between China and South Africa has demonstrated strong vitality and resilience, borne fruitful results, and has become a successful example of how the BRI dovetails with Africa's development and enhances South-South cooperation.
Not long ago, during President Xi Jinping's fourth state visit to South Africa, the two heads of state witnessed the signing of the Letter of Intent on Deepening Belt and Road Cooperation between China and South Africa.
China is ready to work with South Africa to continue to implement the important consensus reached by the two heads of state, enhance our cooperation, drive new development in our Belt and Road cooperation with higher standards and at a higher level, and take our comprehensive strategic partnership to a higher level to better benefit the two peoples.
By Chen Xiaodong, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to South Africa.