Belt and Road plan 'open' to all nations

China has unveiled the framework and priorities of its Belt and Road Initiatives to enhance regional connectivity and common prosperity. China Daily takes a close look at the development opportunities along the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
The Belt and Road Initiatives were put forward by President Xi Jinping in 2013 , has made significant headway with the unveiling of its framework and priorities last month, and more than 60 countries along the routes and international organizations have shown interest in participation.

Liu Huaqin, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the Ministry of Commerce, said investment-driven trade growth will become the new trend of investment for Chinese companies.
Bilateral trade with China and the economies along the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road stood at 1.45 trillion yuan during the first quarter, accounting for about one-fourth of the country's total trade during the same period, the General Administration of Customs said on April 13.
China's exports to the region increased by 10 percent in the first three months. The nation's exports to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and India grew by 20.9 percent and 23.3 percent respectively.
Officials reiterated on Thursday that the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiatives will be "open" to all nations and are not limited by geography.
The commitment was made by top government officials at a briefing for foreign diplomats and company representatives held jointly by the International Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the National Development and Reform Commission, the nation's economic planner.
Ou said that although the initiatives include three potential routes from the Pacific Ocean to the Baltic Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean, they remain inclusive in nature.
The clarification was welcomed by countries that do not lie along the three paths.
Paul Kavanagh, Ireland's ambassador to China, said: "The big message that came across is that the initiatives are open ones and are not confined to countries with a specific proximate geography, a specific historical circumstance or a specific economic situation, which includes Ireland."
"If we continue to pursue our bilateral agenda on political, economic and cultural terms, we will be fulfilling the aims and objectives of the Belt and Road initiatives," he said.
For Peru, the initiatives are ones that look to the future and can be expected to go much further than the historic scope of the Silk Road, which might one day extend across the Pacific Ocean, said Juan-Miguel Miranda, minister counselor at the Embassy of Peru.
Zhang Yansheng, secretary-general of the academic committee of the NDRC, had played down similar concerns from foreign companies not geographically involved in the initiatives, notably those from the United States and Japan.
Zhang said that the foreign companies, which took part in China's transition from planned to market economy 35 years ago, are welcome to be a part of China's transition to a "new normal" of slower and more sustainable growth. They can also partner with China as its new opening-up expands to the developing countries and emerging economies with the new initiatives.