B&R: Win-win output delivered through modern methods

By Guo Yiming
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, May 15, 2017
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The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative will see "a modern China using modern methods to create a win-win output," if diplomatic dialogue can be maintained, a British expert predicted Sunday.

John Chipman, the director-general and chief-executive of the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), speaks to China.org.cn on May 14, 2017. [Photo/China.org.cn]

John Chipman, the director-general and chief-executive of the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), speaks to China.org.cn on May 14, 2017. [Photo/China.org.cn]

John Chipman, director-general and chief-executive of the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), made this statement to China.org.cn on the sidelines of the ongoing Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) in Beijing.

With over 60 countries involved, accounting for 70 percent of the world's population, diplomacy has to go hand-in-hand with economic activity in order to gain widespread acceptance, said Chipman, underscoring the need for multilateral dialogue and communication to move the Initiative forward.

Proposed by China's President Xi Jinping in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative, consisting of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, seeks to synergize efforts to boost policy coordination, facility connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people links along and even beyond the ancient trade routes.

Speaking on the broadness of the Initiative, Chipman said geopolitical requirements are as important as a geo-economic outcome, as some countries along the route are locked in disputes, often related to territorial claims, that may hinder progress of the multilateral efforts.

He cited the remarks made by Xi at the Forum's opening ceremony, that, "We should ensure that, when it comes to different civilizations, exchanges will replace estrangement, mutual learning will replace clashes, and coexistence will replace a sense of superiority."

Chipman warned: "Without efforts on diplomatic resolution, some of the promises of the Belt and Road Initiative may not be achieved."

While admitting its complexity, the veteran analyst argued that Western doubts and concerns over the China-proposed initiative may be over-hyped.

"I don't think the U.S. and the U.K. really have any special skepticism over the Belt and Road Initiative," he said and added that it is quite normal to see grand economic strategies come along with relatively high risks.

"If there are any economic opportunities in which it makes sense to cooperate, I think Western countries will be very much in favor," thus behaving in a more pragmatic manner.

They will tend to look at it on a project-by-project basis, not look at it only as a single strategy that needs support in all of its elements, he argued and echoed Xi's mention of the "Northern Powerhouse" in the U.K. in the sense of coordinating the two initiatives to deliver win-win output.

Closer China-UK ties

In wake of a likely Brexit scenario, many critics say the U.K. may seek a closer relationship with China as it drifts away from the European Union.

The U.K. may want to establish a new trading relationship with China as soon as it is legally able to do so, Chipman predicted.

This was in response to a remark by British Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister) Philip Hammond at the Forum that, "As we embark on a new chapter in our history, we want to maintain a close and open trading partnership with our European neighbors and at the same time to secure free trade agreements around the world with new partners and old allies alike."

And China may play a very large role in this.

"As China drives forward the Belt and Road Initiative from the East, we in Britain are a natural partner in the West, standing ready to work with all partner countries to make a success of this initiative and delivering the jobs, growth and higher living standards that must be our central ambition for all of our citizens," Hammond stressed.

Chipman said the IISS would follow the Belt and Road Initiative closely and work with the business community and the government to understand better how the policy works.

This reflects the fact that total trade between China and the Belt and Road countries in 2014-2016 exceeded US$3 trillion, and China's investment in these countries has surpassed US$50 billion.

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