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BRI offers a shared future

The massive initiative has great economic and trade significance for the world, and Pakistan will play a key role

This year marks five years since the conception of the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013 during his visits to Kazakhstan and Indonesia, the initiative, involving 65 countries and regions, will see more than 200,000 jobs created, investment exceeding $70 billion (8.8 billion euros; £7.7 billion), and 75 overseas joint economic projects launched. It has seen 38 bilateral agreements made between China and other countries, 403 new direct flight routes, and new shipping routes connecting 47 countries. At least $7.48 billion has been invested, while engineering contracts worth $47.8 billion have been signed.

With such unprecedented growth in just five years, the BRI represents a new global world order. Established with a vision to create a shared future of peace and prosperity, the initiative has both land and sea routes - the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road - which are further divided into economic corridors.

Apart from these, the BRI has five key aspects: infrastructure development, uninterrupted trade ties, financial integration, strengthening policy coordination and people-to-people exchanges. The key purpose of this global investment project is to enhance economic interconnectivity and to develop infrastructure across Southeast Asia, Eurasia, the Indian Ocean, the Middle East and Africa.

The massive initiative has great economic and trade significance for nations around the world. From concept to action and from planning to implementation, the BRI provides tremendous opportunities for Pakistan. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, as a flagship portion of the BRI, has seen huge infrastructure built resulting in enhanced economic development. Pakistan is at the crossroads of this gigantic Chinese initiative and has all the potential to reap the benefits.

When Xi announced the initiative in 2013, almost all the capitals of the world began sending positive responses. With its equality, openness and inclusiveness, the Belt and Road circle of friends has been expanding ever since and more countries and international organizations are joining the initiative.

According to one estimate, the BRI covers almost two-thirds of the world's population and has six corridors: China-Pakistan, Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar, China-Indochina peninsula, China-Central Asia-West Asia, the New Eurasia Land Bridge and China-Mongolia-Russia.

The BRI is outward-looking. It emphasizes transport connectivity and economic cooperation among countries and establishes and revives the old silk route. This initiative is multifaceted and multidimensional. With great diplomatic and geopolitical undertaking it has morphed through a series of interactions, from the "Modern Silk Road" to the Belt and Road Initiative.

Many global experts have coined the phrase "New Silk Road" to mark the beginning of a new era of globalization. Most of the infrastructure is built upon patterns used to map the ancient Silk Road as well as using the latest technology to meet modern infrastructure requirements. If we look back in history, the ancient Silk Road can be traced back to the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220) when China's imperial envoy Zhang Qian helped the government establish this route over 2,000 years ago. The ancient road was a network of trade routes that linked China to Central Asia and the Middle East. The road was named after China's most important export, and played an important role in the development of the entire region for thousands of years.

China is spending an estimated $5 trillion on infrastructure development that spans Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa. To make this global project a success, the program is divided into two parts: the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road.

The economic belt includes three routes connecting China to Europe through Central Asia, the Middle East, the Mediterranean via West Asia and the Indian Ocean through South Asia. The maritime route will create connections among regional waterways. Over 60 nations and regions, with a combined GDP of $21 trillion, have shown an interest in participating in the BRI. Through these global routes, China plans to link landlocked countries. Thus, it's all about building massive infrastructure circles around transport, energy, roads, railways and ports. The global project aims to create the world's largest platform for economic cooperation, including policy coordination, trade and financing collaboration, as well as social and cultural cooperation.

The multitrillion dollar project will help partners enhance regional and economic growth, develop and integrate. As for its initial financial investment plans, China plans to spend an estimated $4 trillion to $8 trillion on this megaproject.

To this end, it has set up local banks to finance various projects, economic corridors and related plans. In 2014, Beijing established the $40 billion Silk Road Fund to finance these initiatives, and it has made investments in several key projects. These megaprojects are just the start as the BRI enters a new stage of comprehensive development.

Through the BRI, the Chinese market will open up in myriad ways while the countries involved will benefit from rising Chinese industries. The prosperity is not only tremendous for the region but on a global level it is also unstoppable.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor continues to remain the crown of the BRI since its inception during the visit of Xi to Pakistan in April 2015. It is a Chinese vision of a shared future and mutual prosperity of the region beyond the horizon of the Himalayas.

The project is one of the fastest and most effective projects within the BRI, completing its various phases with strength, dedication and the hard work of Chinese and Pakistan engineers, workers and supporters.

Being a flagship project of the BRI, the CPEC will provide benefits to Pakistan earlier than the other countries involved. Substantial projects such as roads and railway networks, infrastructure development, port development, energy related projects and power plants will be operable before 2020.

CPEC is indeed ensuring a boost to Pakistan's economy. Massive investment will expand Pakistan's GDP growth. The increasing inflow of foreign direct investment will signal a safe and favorable environment for business opportunities. It is a blessed opportunity for Pakistan's businesses and corporate sector, and will allow the country to be anchored to a robust economy like China's.

With world-leading forex reserves of $3.6 trillion, China is able to create its own investments at home and abroad. It is the largest exporter in the world with $2.34 trillion in annual exports, while it is the third-largest importer with an annual import value of $1.96 trillion.

The BRI is a reality with a clear vision put forward by China while recognizing the realities of the multipolar world order. China and Pakistan, along with the other key players, are making the BRI vision a momentous event in our time. With visionary Chinese leadership, the day is not far away when the world will see the rise of peace, prosperity and development with equality and shared responsibility - a community with a shared prosperous future.

Muhammad Asif Noor is director of the Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies and Centre for Belt and Road and CPEC, Islamabad, Pakistan, and secretary-general of the Pakistan-Shanghai Cooperation Organization Friendship Forum. He contributed this article to the China Watch Institute, a think tank platform powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

(China Daily European Weekly 10/12/2018 page12)  Editor:Lucky

(Source_title:BRI offers a shared future for mankind)