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Spotlight: China's Belt and Road Initiative promotes connectivity, development along ancient route
2017/01/03

More than three years ago , Chinese President Xi Jinpingproposed to build the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st -Century Maritime Silk Road .

Looking back at 2016, the Belt and Road Initiative has gained fruitful early achievements , promoting connectivity and opening up possibilities and potentials for development along the ancient trade route .

SILK ROAD ECONOMIC BELT STRINGS ROADS TOGETHER

One day in golden October in Kashgar of China ' s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region , a fleet of 50 trucks of a joint trade convoy carrying large containers started to roll along the China-PakistanEconomic Corridor ( CPEC ).

After passing the Pamirs , crossing the Har goolun Range , and threading Pakistan ' s western region , the fleet finally arrived at its destination -- the Gwadar Port of Pakistan , concluding its 3,115 -km journey in a month .

The containers carried by the fleet were shipped to the United Arab Emirates and other countries , marking the Gwadar port ' s first export of containers to overseas destinations , and showing that the port has restored the designed handling capacity .

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that CPEC is destined to transform the entire country and open up a world of possibilities for not just Pakistan but also Central Asian states .

In February 2016, China Railway Tunnel Group completed building the Qamchiq Tunnel in Uzbekistan , the longest tunnel in Central Asia . It is part of the 169 -km Angren-Pap railway line , a major state project . After completion of the rail line , Uzbekistan ' s domestic transport will no longer have to go through foreign territories .

" If we say 2013 is the year of proposal , 2014 is the year of guideline , 2015 is the year of top-level design , then 2016 is the year of implementing landmark projects of the Belt and Road Initiative ," said Zhao Lei , a professor at China ' s Central Party School . " Many European countries have high approval rates on the Belt and Road Initiative ."

Perhaps the busy-running China-Europe trains give the best illustration to people ' s acceptance . Since the Belt and Road proposal , trains running between Europe and China have been burgeoning . By June 2016, trains had been running nearly 2,000 times between China and Europe , with a total of import and export value of 17 billion U . S . dollars .

Many other projects are also under way . The China-Belarus industrial park is in development , the Hungary-Serbia railroad is to be constructed by the Chinese side soon , cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European countries has been further expanded .

The Silk Road Economic Belt , with a nature of inclusiveness and openness , has become a vital link connecting regional development and China ' s transformation .

21ST CENTURY MARITIME SILK ROAD CONNECTS ROADS AND PORTS

In October 2016, the contract for the second phase of the China-Laos railway project was signed in Lao capital of Vientiane .

Kicked off in late 2015, the construction of the project is expected to be completed in five years . Upon completion of the railway , a trip from Vientiane to the Chinese border will take only four hours , turning Laos from a landlocked country into a land-linked nation .

On Jan . 21, 2016, at the ground-breaking ceremony of the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway , Indonesian President Joko Widodo launched the country ' s first ever high-speed railway project in Walini , West Java Province .

With a maximum design speed of 350 km per hour , the travel time between Jakarta and Bandung will be cut from over three hours to less than one hour once the project is finished .

The Belt and Road Initiative provides opportunities not only for a new round of China ' s opening-up , but also for the growth of world economy .

On Aug . 10, 2016, Chinese shipping giant COSCO acquired 67 percent stake of Piraeus Port Authority through the Athens Stock Exchange , officially becoming the controlling shareholder of the Greek port .

Piraeus is expected to operate as a hub in Europe for the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road , and to connect the Silk Road Economic Belt with the China-Europe Land-Sea Express Line .

According to Chinese ambassador to GreeceZou Xiaoli , Piraeus was not merely an economic project , but also a bridge to connect the peoples of Greece and China .

In Africa , the Chinese-built Ethiopia-Djibouti railway has officially opened service , marking a milestone in cooperation between China , Ethiopia and Djibouti .

In Cambodia , the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone has attracted hundreds of enterprises , providing a model of China-Cambodia cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative .

In Myanmar , a consortium of six foreign companies led by China ' s CITIC has won two bids to build an industrial park and a deep-sea port in the Kyaukpyu Special Economic Zone in Rakhine State , which will improve the country ' s infrastructure , local people ' s employment and livelihood .

In Sri Lanka , the green light has been given to the delayed Colombo Port City . Through the Maritime Silk Road , China will support the country in becoming a shipping , logistics and even financial hub in the Indian Ocean .

A CHINESE MATTER , ALSO A WORLD MATTER

It has been nearly two years since the Chinese-owned company Southeast Asia Telecommunications entered the Cambodian market . With an investment of 150 million U . S . dollars , a fiber network extending 10,000 km , and over 1,000 base stations , the company has improved the efficiency of communications in Cambodia , and was spoken highly of by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen .

Apart from opening up a new market in Cambodia with the dedication to high-speed Internet and high-quality phone calls , the company is also shouldering social responsibility by launching the Youth Sci-Tech Education Base and the Cloud Data Center .

" Previously , people saw most ' Belt and Road ' programs in areas such as energy and infrastructure . In 2016, cooperation between China and those countries along the routes have been expanded to education , culture , medical care and telecommunications ," said Zhao of the Central Party School

If the " hard connection " of the Belt and Road draws countries geographically closer , then the " soft connection " brings people together .

Till now , over 100 countries and international organizations have expressed willingness to actively support and join the initiative , 40 of which have signed cooperation deals with China .

In 2017, a Belt and Road summit will be held to further map out the blueprint of the initiative , explore business opportunities and deepen alignment of development strategies between China and the relevant parties .

On June 22, 2016, during a speech at the Legislative Chamber of the Uzbek Supreme Assembly in Tashkent , Xi called for building a green , healthy , intelligent and peaceful Silk Road , laying out the future of the initiative .

According to Huang Rihan , Executive Director of the Belt and Road Institute at the Center for China and Globalization think tank , a green Silk Road urges environmental protection and intensive cultivation for sustained development .

A healthy Silk Road means closer cooperation in medical care and health among related countries . An intelligent Silk Road calls for people cultivation and exchanges . A peaceful Silk Road aims at implementing a common , comprehensive , cooperative and sustainable security concept in Asia , then promoting world peace and stability , Huang added .

While addressing the Uzbek Parliament , Xi invited other countries to attend the 2017 Belt and Road summit . The summit will not only look back at the fruitful harvest made so far under the initiative , but also set up a new starting point for the future , observers said .

" The Belt and Road Initiative will not be a flash in the pan , nor will it be formalism ," said Zhao , " China will go deep with the initiative and turn it into real benefits ."

" The agreement reached in November by the UN General Assembly to further promote the Belt and Road Initiative worldwide shows that its construction involves not just China , but also countries along the routes and the world at large ," said Wang Yiwei , a professor at Renmin University of China .

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