Economic projects assist 'Belt and Road Initiative'

Updated: 2015-05-08 07:47

By Chen Jia(China Daily)

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The three countries that President Xi Jinping is visiting from this week all play significant roles in promoting the China-proposed "Belt and Road Initiative", according to experts.

More bilateral economic cooperation projects between China, Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus are expected to result from meetings between Xi and their leaders, they said.

The Belt and Road Initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, aimed at promoting economic and cultural ties with neighboring countries.

During Xi's three-day visit to Russia, which starts on Friday, the two heads of state will sign a joint statement on strengthening the Sino-Russian partnership, Vice-Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping said at a news briefing.

They will also discuss the "docking" of China's Silk Road Economic Belt initiative with Russia's related idea for a trade and infrastructure network across Eurasia, and developing the Russia-led Eurasian Economic-Union, Cheng said.

Xu Hongcai, a senior economist at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, a government think tank, said Sino-Russian cooperation will focus mainly on exploiting energy resources and on financial development, which are related with the Belt and Road Initiative.

Last year, China remained Russia's largest trading partner for the fifth consecutive year, while Russia was China's ninth-largest trading partner.

Russian President Vladimir Putin voiced support for the Belt and Road Initiative during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing in November.

The two countries agreed to strengthen their relationship in the fields of infrastructure construction, energy, trade, as well as cultural and educational exchanges.

More than 100 Chinese guards of honor arrived in Moscow on April 25. On May 9, they will take part in a parade on Red Square to celebrate the 70th anniversary of victory in World War II.

In early March, Russia applied to join the China-proposed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a multilateral financial institution that will provide capital for projects based on the Belt and Road Initiative. The country has been approved as one of the 57 prospective founding members.

Before arriving in Russia, Xi was visiting Kazakhstan on Thursday.

Cheng, the vice-foreign minister, said Xi and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev will lay down a blueprint that will include joint Belt and Road construction and cooperation on major projects.

Liu Qian, an economist at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said: "Compared with its Central Asian neighbors, Kazakhstan has been relatively open to foreign investment. With its location, it will be an important hub along the land route."

She said the Chinese initiative will help to improve foreign trade, modern transportation and the logistics industry in Kazakhstan.

The Belt and Road concept was proposed by Xi during a visit to Kazakhstan in September 2013. In a speech, he suggested that China and Central Asia cooperate on building a Silk Road Economic Belt.

In May last year, the first phase of a logistics terminal built by China and Kazakhstan went into operation in the port of Lianyungang in Jiangsu province.

The terminal, with investment of 606 million yuan ($98 million), is considered a platform for goods from countries in Central Asia to reach overseas markets.

After Russia, Xi will pay a two-day visit to Belarus, the first by a Chinese president in 14 years.

Officials from government departments and enterprises in China and Belarus will sign a series of cooperation documents on the economy and trade, customs, education and culture, according to Cheng.

 Economic projects assist 'Belt and Road Initiative'

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev walk past an honor guard at a welcoming ceremony in Astana, Kazakhstan, on Thursday. Stanislav Filippov / AFP

Economic projects assist 'Belt and Road Initiative'

(China Daily 05/08/2015 page3)