See More on Facebook

Business, Diplomacy

Belt and Road Initiative touted at WEF

World Economic Forum panel upbeat about benefits of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.


Written by

Updated: January 23, 2019

Geopolitics cannot be divorced from China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, but the mega project will create plenty of economic opportunities and growth for countries, said panellists at a World Economic Forum discussion in Davos on Tuesday (Jan 22).

And while current tensions between the world’s two biggest economies, China and the US, have rattled the rest of the globe, long-term infrastructural projects that are vital to connecting nations and driving free trade will continue at a rapid clip, they predicted.

Launched five years ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature development strategy to revive ancient sea and land trade routes linking Africa, Europe and Asia, has won the support of an increasing number of countries eager for China’s help.

While experts have also expressed worry over these developing countries’ ability to repay the large debts they owe to China, not to mention fears over the East Asian giant’s expanding geopolitical influence, the four panellists were upbeat about the benefits of the BRI.

“Any kind of transportation project which connects countries will have a geopolitical background and positively influence geopolitical situations, stability and credibility because it creates interdependence,” said Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev.

Singapore’s Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said the momentum of the initiative will not slow if countries support the vision of economic integration through building connectivity.

“Geopolitics will have an impact on the pace and the international trading system, so it is important for us to push on and look for projects that are economically viable, bankable and have proper rules and regulations…so you can show to the world that these are projects that have long-term benefits,” he said.

“And we shouldn’t let the current trade skirmishes end up affecting the longer term objective of better integration for a better world.”

The Belt and Road Initiative is a focal point in China’s relationship with Singapore, which has been an early supporter of the mega project.

The two countries have identified four major areas of cooperation: infrastructure connectivity, financial connectivity, joint collaboration to help other countries, and services to help resolve cross-border commercial disputes.

Mr Heng said while it is easy to say that free trade will benefit all, in practice there will be winners and losers, and countries will have to restructure to keep up.

“The underlying concept is we can all have a better life if we cooperate, but reaching there is not a given,” he said, noting of the BRI: “It’s a serious vision which needs to be pursued vigorously.”

Mr Xu Niansha, chairman of state-owned Poly Group, which is primarily in the business of defence manufacturing sales, said China has come a long way in the past 40 years, and developing countries linked by BRI share similarities with China’s developmental path.

“Therefore, it will be much easier to collaborate because of the similarities,” he said.

Mr Xiao Yaqing, chairman of the China’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, offered an assurance to companies eager to come on board, but facing pressures of trying to strike a balance between a long-term development vision and short-term rewards. “If you don’t think you can strike that balance just yet, you can wait before participating in Belt and Road,” he said from among the audience, when asked for his view on the subject by the panel’s moderator.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


China Daily
About the Author: China Daily covers domestic and world news through nine print editions and digital media worldwide.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Business, Diplomacy

Rohingya repatriation fails

None of the refugees wished to return to Myanmar. The failure of the second attempt to begin repatriating the Rohingyas has once again exposed Myanmar’s lack of sincerity, experts said. Rohingyas say Myanmar has not taken into consideration any of their core demands — guarantee of citizenship, recognition as an ethnic community, ensuring safety in Rakhine and other basic rights that they have been denied since 1982. Until these conditions are met, the Rohingyas will not be willing to go back. The issues were raised time and again by rights groups, but nothing has been done. “Myanmar is not serious at all. They are playing diplomacy and Bangladesh has fallen into its trap,” Prof Imtiaz Ahmed of International Relations at Dhaka University told The Daily Star yesterday. The most crucial thing Myanmar needs to do before repatriation is amend its 1982 law, which stripped the Rohingy


By Daily Star
August 23, 2019

Business, Diplomacy

South Korea pulls out of intel-sharing pact amid spat with Japan

Seoul cites ‘grave change’ in security cooperation conditions attributable to Japan’s export restrictions for abolishing GSOMIA. South Korea decided to withdraw from the bilateral military intelligence-sharing pact with Japan on Thursday, amid escalating friction over trade and historical issues. In a televised announcement, Cheong Wa Dae said it has made the decision to abolish General Security of Military Information Agreement and will notify Japan via diplomatic channels by midnight on Saturday, the deadline for a decision on whether to renew the agreement. “The government deemed that Japan caused grave change in the bilate


By The Korea Herald
August 23, 2019

Business, Diplomacy

France presses India to opt for dialogue on occupied Kashmir issue

Macron and Modi met before the G7 summit. French President Emmanuel Macron has met with India’s prime minister, discussing climate and other concerns ahead of the G-7 summit but also pressing for dialogue with Pakistan over the crisis in occupied Kashmir. The meeting on Thursday with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was part of a marathon day of diplomacy for Macron, who is touching base with key countries before the weekend summit in Biarritz. Modi will be a special guest there. Read more: US urges India to free detainees, restore rights in occupied Kashmir Macron met earlier on Thursday with new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Greece’s prime minister. Macron said he stressed the need for India and Pakistan to resolve differences bilaterally and avoid an escalation. On Aug 5, Modi dow


By Dawn
August 23, 2019

Business, Diplomacy

China says Canada solely responsible for difficulties in relations

The heiress to the Huawei fortune has been arrested in Canada, while China has arrested several Canadians. China-Canada relations have met serious difficulties, and the Canadian side is solely responsible for this, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Thursday. Geng Shuang made the comment at a press briefing when asked about Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s remarks that the Canadian government would not “back down” in disputes with China. Urging the Canadian side to reflect upon its mistakes, Geng said Canada should treat China’s solemn position and concerns seriously and immediately release Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei. Geng also criticized Canada’s series of wrong comments on Hong Kong, saying that Hong Kong affairs are China’s internal affairs and brook no interference from any country, organization or individual.


By China Daily
August 23, 2019

Business, Diplomacy

EDITORIAL: Trump’s efforts needed in Kashmir mediation

The nuclear powers are act loggerheads and the threat of violence is very real. US PRESIDENT Donald Trump’s advice that Pakistan and India must “work towards reducing tensions” in the wake of the abrupt cancellation of the special status and autonomy of India-held Kashmir shows just how grave the situation is between the two nuclear-armed states. For historically, the Americans have only woken up and rushed to the region when the two neighbours have been on the brink. And this is exactly where, Pakistan insists, the problem lies. “A tough situation, but good conversations”, is how Mr Trump described the current state of affairs in this region through his tweet on Monday, after speaking by phone to the leaders of the two countries in the space of a few days. Many on this side of the border


By Dawn
August 22, 2019

Business, Diplomacy

Japan believes N. Korea has already developed nuclear warheads

All of Japan is within range of Pyongyang’s ballistic missiles. According to the original version of the Japanese government’s 2019 white paper on defense, North Korea is believed to have already achieved the miniaturization of nuclear weapons and the development of nuclear warheads, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned. This is the first time such statements have been included in the report. Regarding South Korea, which is intensifying its confrontation with Japan, the report lowered that nation’s ranking from the previous year among the countries and regions that are promoting security cooperation with Japan. The Japanese government is making arrangements to approve the 2019 white paper at a Cabinet meeting in mid-September. On North Korea’s military moves, the paper again said they posed a “serious and imminent threat.” The 2018 version of the report said there was a “possi


By The Japan News
August 22, 2019