Belt and Road close to Canada, figuratively

By NA LI in TORONTO | Updated: 2017-06-14 05:28

Belt and Road close to Canada, figuratively

He Wei (right), Chinese consul general in Toronto, along with Kathy Chan, director of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (Toronto) discuss the Belt and Road Initiative and how it relates to Canada last week in Toronto. NA LI / CHINA DAILY

How far is the Belt and Road Initiative from Canada?

It is just around the corner.

He Wei, Chinese consul general in Toronto, posed and answered that question at a forum on the Belt and Road last week in Toronto.

Why did China put forth the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)?

"Over the past 40 years, China's reform and opening-up policy has profoundly changed China and the world. Built on decades of experience, China has developed major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics, featuring peace and mutual benefits," He said. "That's why we proposed the policy."

According to He, the BRI is "a cruise heading for prosperity", carrying on the Silk Road spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, and mutual learning and benefit.

He pledged that the core of the initiative is connecting efforts for common prosperity. Based on the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, the essence of the BRI is an open and inclusive platform of cooperation. It is open to all like-minded parties and never used to repel or contain any other party, He said.

"It looks like a community of shared interests, shared destiny and shared responsibility," He said. "We are building the Belt and Road into a road for peace, a road of prosperity, a road of opening up, a road of innovation and a road connecting different civilizations."

So what does the BRI mean for Canada?

"It's an important opportunity for Canada to access the huge market of Eurasia and participate in a new round of circulation in the global economy," He said.

According to the consul, the initiative is a prime opportunity for Canada to explore third-party cooperation with China in infrastructure, making the best of the strengths of Canada in technology, management and service.

It's also a good opportunity to help Canadian businesses get actively involved in a new round of industrial innovation and division of labor.

"Don't miss the boat! Get on board!" He encouraged.

Following He's speech, Kathy Chan, director of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (Toronto), said Hong Kong is Canada's ideal partner in the BRI.

"Hong Kong will play a role to widen financial channels for Belt and Road, provide asset management and other financial services for infrastructure projects, and support Hong Kong to offer insurance and reinsurance services," Chan said.

According to Chen, Hong Kong, as an international financial centre, can provide diversified financing channels and excellent professional and dispute service resolution. She invited Canadian companies to the Belt and Road Summit in September in Hong Kong to explore more growth opportunities.

Sarah Kutulakos, executive director of the Canada China Business Council, said Canada is a provider of minerals and products that would be essential to construct the BRI infrastructure and could further provide specialized technologies and services for infrastructure development.

"Canada has great strength in all aspects of infrastructure in harsh environments, so it brings a wide range of opportunities which we could address," Kutulakos said.

"Canadian companies also consider (getting) involved in environment protection around the silk route area."

Since the initiative, connectivity between China and other BRI countries has been established in infrastructure, finance and people-to-people exchanges. The economic corridors such as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor have made great strides.

China has pledged an additional 100 billion RMB to the Silk Road Fund and will encourage financial institutions to conduct overseas RMB fund business with an estimated transactional value of 300 billion RMB.

In the coming three years, China will provide assistance worth RMB 60 billion to developing countries and international organizations to launch more projects to improve people's well-being.


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