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Belt and Road: A whole new world


The right math

China is doing math, but what kind?

It is an equation that will solve a problem the whole world is facing: Connectivity and growth. And China's answer is simply to add values, be it bridges, roads, ports, industrial parks, training centers or stadiums. What China is doing is basically providing something useful to the world.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) gathered 19 billion U.S. dollars in investments by last August. And the Piraeus port has created 10,000 jobs for Greece. The China cargo trains to Europe have delivered more than 570,000 20-foot equivalent units (TEU) of goods in seven years, an amount that can fill 21 Empire State Buildings.

All these would not be possible if there were no BRI.

Land-locked countries become land-linked. For businesses, efficiency solves deficiency. And for people, connectivity brings ingenuity. More than 150 countries and international organizations have signed on to the BRI. And a study by the World Bank concluded that BRI projects could lift global GDP by 3%.

The BRI is a boost to the world.

Half full or half empty?

But the perception of the BRI is different. Fundamentally, it is a problem of how to frame your thinking. Do you appreciate the water in your cup or do you whine about the space left to be filled?

Some western politicians say China is deliberately overloading weak countries with loans, and when they buckle, China will seize their assets. First of all, they forget why these countries need the loans in the first place. Without the money, the people would never see a new road or bridge. China can prove this with 40 years of report cards.

Secondly, the risks of the loans have been totally overblown. A typical example is Hambantota. The Sri Lankan port failed commercially and was handed over to the Chinese company on a 99-year lease. Yes, the Chinese are now running the port, but they do not own it and have no reason to do so.

A Johns Hopkins University study shows that among 3,000 China-financed projects, no example can support the debt trap theory.

On the contrary, China is the one that puts its money where his mouth is. And China is the one that actually makes things happen. It is easy to criticize, but the question is what can you offer instead? When you are a hammer, everything you see is a nail. But the world in the 21st century is not a place for hammers, it is for builders.

Open for all

I don't think the BRI is perfect and no one should take any human endeavor for granted.

As President Xi said, "plants with strong roots grow and efforts with sharp focus succeed." The BRI has strong roots from global demand and should succeed with the right focus, which in this case is openness.

The BRI is not just one belt or one road. It is many belts and many roads. And many of the roads don't lead to Beijing. They will be paths from anywhere and to everywhere. It is an agreement to come together. Like plants in an ecosystem; to live we need not one tree, not two trees, but a forest.

We can do great good if we work together and together is how we must be for a whole new world.

Editor's note: Zou Yue joined CCTV in 2003, and in 2010 became the anchor of China 24, a flagship news magazine show on CCTV NEWS, the predecessor of CGTN. Since 1997, Zou has covered major events across China, including Hong Kong and Macao's return to China, China's first manned space flight, the Six-Party talks in Beijing, the Wenchuan earthquake, and Shenzhou and Chang'e space missions to name a few.

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