May 28 2015
The Belt and Road Strategy:A Fresh Boost to China’s Opening-up
By Zhang Haibing
Recently, China again made the headlines on the world economic stage. The United Kingdom, America’s most important ally, applied for the founding membership in the Chinese-led AIIB(Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank), spurring a new wave of applications by other regional and world powers, dramatically increasing the number of founding members to fifty-seven.  China’s National Development and Reform Commission, Foreign Ministry, and Ministry of Commerce have jointly released the Vision and Actions on Jointly Building Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, laying out a master plan for China’s new round of opening-up and probably heralding a new economic era for both China and the world.

This master strategy can be perceived through three dimensions.

Change is a defining feature of a globalized age, so speed differentiates. China’s opening-up strategy has been played out at a stunning pace. The whole world has barely get used to China’s high growth rate when it find itself trying hard to adjust to China’s fast-evolving strategy. The fidgety West has a mixed feeling of anxiety and excitement about China’s ambitious strategic planning. The U.S.was embarrassed by its traditional allies over the AIIB.  Besides shoring up the existing international development financing institutions, the budding AIIB and BRICS development bank has brought new vitality to the languid system of multilateral development banks. 
Sincerity and credibility constitute the value basis of the strategy. The Vision and Actions is a Chinese calling to the world for deeper cooperation. It summarizes the strategy as “a systematic project, which should be jointly built through consultation to meet the interests of all, and efforts should be made to integrate the development strategies of the countries along the Belt and Road. ” The Vision can also be regarded as China’s sincere invitation to countries along the belt and road for better aligned development strategies for common development. China aims to advance pragmatic cooperation in various forms though a flexible and moderate approach. Chinese President Xi Jinping pointed out at the 2015 Boao Forum for Asia that, the programs in the strategy ”will be a real chorus comprising all countries along the routes, not a solo for China itself. To develop the Belt and Road is not to replace existing mechanisms or initiatives for regional cooperation. Much to the contrary, we will build on the existing basis to help countries align their development strategies and form complementarity. ”

Extensive cooperation provides broad space for China’s economic development in the next ten years. The five areas prioritized in the Vision for deeper regional cooperation, namely policy coordination, facility connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration, and people-to-people bond are meant to foster closer ties at the governmental, business, and public’s levels. Besides, the strategy also lays out the plans for China’s domestic economic reforms in different regions: northwest, northeast, southwest, eastern coastal areas. It underscores the core positions of regional centers such as the Xinjiang Autonomous Region and Fujian Province as important hubs along the Belt and Road.

In a word, the strategy has shown that China, within its ability, is willing to shoulder more responsibilities to maker greater contributions to human progress and world peace.   

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