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LONDON, March 7 (Xinhua) — Britain can play a key role in the Belt and Road Initiative, which also brings London great opportunities, a leading expert on UK-China relations told Xinhua in a recent exclusive interview.
British business leader, vice chair of the London-based 48 Club Group Keith Bennett was commenting as China’s annual two sessions are underway in Beijing.
BELT & ROAD
Bennett believed that as a responsible member of the international community, China has long been an active participant in such global institutions as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
“China is also now increasingly taking the lead in the creation of new institutions, designed not to supplant existing bodies, but to supplement them, based on broad and inclusive participation.”
Bennett cites key examples such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the BRICS’ New Development Bank.
“By far the most ambitious, visionary and transformative initiative that China has unveiled is the concept of the Belt and Road Initiative,” said the business leader.
Proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia, Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road routes.
More than 100 countries and international organizations have responded warmly to the initiative and over 40 of them have signed cooperation agreements with China.
“China’s initiative to jointly build the Belt and Road, embracing the trend towards a multipolar world, economic globalization, cultural diversity and greater IT application, aims at being highly efficient in terms of the allocation of resources, and at achieving a deep integration of markets among the countries concerned,” said Bennett.
“It will thereby jointly create an open, inclusive and balanced regional economic cooperation architecture that benefits all.”
Across the three great continents of Asia, Africa and Europe, the initiative will create new routes and connections by utilizing the “three highs,” namely high speed trains, high speed energy transmission and high speed connectivity and communications.
“We are talking about a revolution in infrastructure, technology and connectivity, bringing unparalleled development and prosperity and affording unprecedented investment and growth opportunities,” Bennett said.
The business leader believed that Britain can expect to play a significant part in the initiative, particularly in those sectors which remain acknowledged global leaders, with world-class companies, such as in legal, accounting, financial, regulatory and other professional services, as well as funding, listings, architecture and design.
“With Brexit approaching, Britain faces both challenges and opportunities. One of the greatest opportunities is to work with the Belt and Road Initiative and coordinate our own national priorities, such as the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine, with it,” said Bennett.
“Investment from China into Britain’s modernization and development of its infrastructure holds great potential for ‘win-win’ cooperation,” he added.
Bennett also stressed that how China’s economic performance has exceeded the experience of any other country in human history, lifting tens of millions of people out of poverty.
Since 1981, according to World Bank data, China had by the end of 2015 reduced the number of people living in internationally defined poverty by 728 million, lifting another nearly 12.5 million people out of poverty last year.
“This is greater than the entire population of Latin America or of the European Union. Over the same period, 1981-2015, the rest of the world has only managed to lift 152 million people out of poverty,” said Bennett.
“That is, for every one person lifted out of poverty in the rest of the world over the recent historical period, more than four Chinese people were similarly uplifted,” he explained.
He added, “as China’s economy has advanced, and as its poverty levels have inexorably declined, we find the issue of common prosperity, for China’s neighbors as well as for the wider world, as a community of shared destiny, increasingly coming to the fore.”
By Gui Tao, Larry Neild