Belt and Road Initiative Turns Blueprint into Reality
Albanian Daily News
Published June 5, 2017
The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing on May has achieved concrete results and won positive reactions from the international community.
The forum was an important milestone in the global popularization and implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative, said Gerishon Ikiara, a lecturer of international economics at the University of Nairobi.
The joint communique released at the end of the forum highlighted the importance of the forum in the implementation of the initiative, he said. The forum was a major boost to the Belt and Road Initiative in terms of gathering international support. One of the outcomes of the forum was the broad agreement from the participants that the Belt and Road project was an important platform for rapid global infrastructural and trade development where all countries can participate, contribute and benefit as equals, he said.
The forum has yielded a list of deliverables, which include 76 items comprising more than 270 concrete results in five key areas, namely policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity. Among the list of deliverables, the Chinese government signed memoranda of understanding on Belt and Road cooperation with the governments of Mongolia, Pakistan, Nepal, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Timor-Leste, Singapore, Myanmar and Malaysia.
China also signed Belt and Road cooperation documents with several international organizations including the United Nations Development Programma, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, the World Health Organization and the World Intellectual Property Organization. In order to deepen project cooperation for infrastructure connectivity,China signed agreements on international transportation and strategy coordination with Uzbekistan, Turkey and Belarus. On expanding industrial investment and enhancing trade connectivity,China signed cooperation agreements with 30 countries, including Pakistan, Vietnam, Belarus, Mongolia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Palestine, Lebanon.
Senior officials and experts said that the the Belt and Road Initiative brings great significance to international economic cooperation and sustainable development as well as the building of a peaceful world.
Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos has congratulated China on the successful holding of the forum on May 14-15.
In a televised message, Pavlopoulos said the forum showed that the Belt and Road Initiative is of great significance to international economic cooperation and development.
The Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road and maritime trading routes, bringing mutually beneficial economic outcomes for every nation involved. "The representation of states at the highest level from across the globe underlines the international acceptance of this ambitious plan, which, through trade and investments, aims to bring Asia closer to Europe, the American continent and Africa," the Greek leader noted.
In the context, the success of China's Belt and Road Initiative is certain, and will contribute to the promotion of peaceful coexistence among peoples and subsequently to the consolidation of peace worldwide, Pavlopoulos said. Ukrainian First Deputy Prime Minister Stepan Kubiv spoke highly of his attendance at the forum, stressing that it has brought fruitful results.
"This visit highlighted Ukraine's integration into the global community of economic and trade relations, the formation of new principles, the new policy and Ukraine's role in the Silk Road," Kubiv said. The Ukrainian delegation reached a series of agreements with China on enhancing cooperation in infrastructure, transport, aviation industry, logistics and machine-building, he said. "We are all inspired by the New Silk Road idea," said Zbigniew Ostrowski, a deputy in a Poland's seminar titled the fourth edition of International Asian Congress.
"The Belt and Road idea might also positively stimulate the Polish economy, so we actively take part in these actions, a proof of which is presence of Prime Minister Beata Szydlo at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing," he added. Radoslaw Flisiuk, head of the China Department in the Polish Foreign Ministry, said the Belt and Road Initiative is welcomed by Poland as it will result in the mutual benefit of all participating countries.
"We believe this concept can become an important factor in international efforts to consolidate a base for sustainable development," he said.
An "invisible" giant for railway projects along Belt and Road
A yellow-green metro train is running southeast on a light railway near the sacred city of Mecca through a whirlwind of flying sand and unbearable heat.
On a May day in west Saudi Arabia's desert valley, the bright, spotless train body looks like a breeze of light air. The eye-catcher is attributed to the machine washer designed and manufactured by CHSR, a Chinese supplier of solutions and products for the operation and maintenance of rail transit systems.
FIRST OVERSEAS ORDER
"With a relatively solid rail transit system and a sound relationship with China, Saudi Arabia is an essential part of CHSR's Mid-East strategy," said Li Xinzheng, market director of the China High-Speed Railway Technology Co. Ltd (CHSR).
The train washer for the Mecca Metro was CHSR's first overseas order, tailor-made for the 18-km transit line completed in late 2010 by Chinese construction and engineering company CRCC. The transit line connects major holy sites of the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
"As common engines are vulnerable to sand and dust, CHSR applies a full-enclosure design to the washers for the windy and dusty Mecca," Wu Jianwei, director of CHSR' s overseas business, told Xinhua.
What's more, a water recycling system was specially developed to save water in the desert area, he said.
Furthermore, the washing machine is capable of adjusting its brushes to the train's surface, reducing damages to the paint, windshields and wipers, while it meets European standards in endurance, emissions and efficiency.
The train washer, which is also being used in Singapore, has become a best seller for the Beijing-based railway tech company, with one variety for high-speed trains taking up a 90 percent share in the domestic market.
"Though the train-washing business originated in Germany and developed in the United States and European countries, such as Spain, the Chinese standards for bullet trains are currently higher than theirs," Wu stressed.
A BOOST OF BELT AND ROAD
The train washer is only part of CHSR's 400-plus product line, which also includes products and solutions for operating and maintaining the locomotive, rolling stock signal and power supply systems, rail transit, and depot.
More than an equipment supplier, the company, which has nine subsidiaries, also offers an overall solution to individual or multiple transit lines. It also aims to make breakthroughs in big data and industrial services in the coming years.
While Chinese flagships CRCC and rolling stock manufacturer CRRC are visible giants in foreign business, Li said CHSR is an invisible giant abroad.
Market research shows the maintenance of overseas urban railway transit is valued at around 140 billion U.S. dollars during the 2016-2020 period, with a great potential to be multiplied in the future.
As the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative keeps making progress, CHSR's overseas business is growing rapidly, said Wu, noting that countries along the Silk Road routes are among the major contributors to the market. China's world's leading high-speed railway products, which represent the top standard of the Chinese manufacturing are a "name card" of the industry, a major topic between China and other countries.
With access to more potential partners abroad, the sector of trail transit has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Belt and Road Initiative, Wu said. "CHSR will expand its global footprint by taking good advantage of those opportunities."
GROWING BY LEARNING
In addition to the Middle East market, CHSR has managed to stretch its reach to Europe, North America, Southeast Asia and Russia by acting as an equipment supplier for China state-owned enterprises working on foreign contracts or partnering with foreign counterparts on their local projects.
But their global appearances did not come easily. Wu cited a train-set washer program for Singapore's rail transport that should have been completed within a half-year period but took around two years before it was operational due to high labor and material cost.
Singapore's labor law requires foreign companies to employ and use only local staff, while some of the materials used for the project must be bought locally.
Therefore, local partners play a key role in project execution as they are responsible for installing equipment, running tests, and training workers, as well as maintenance and other after-sale service, Wu elaborated.
What CHSR sells is not a disposable product but one that needs continuous care, he said. "Localization is actually a win-win result that will not only benefit CHSR but also create more jobs for local residents."
As foreign governments raise their awareness of environmental protection, high tech-driven companies like CHSR are very popular in their markets, Li said. "What we need to do is to clear any doubt with our top-quality products and services."
Chinese firms add high-tech wings to shared development on Belt&Road
By Xinhua writers Liu Chang, Li Rong
The minute when Drozdov Evgeny tried MIUI, an android firmware modified by the Chinese smartphone maker of Xiaomi, the 28-year-old Russian young man simply fell for it offhandedly.
Evgeny now works for a Russian software company. In 2011, fascinated by Xiaomi's produce, he launched his own online forum to share the latest versions of MIUI ROMs with other fans all across Russia. The Chinese company has now designated his cyber community, which at present has 11,000 registered members, as its official fans' forum in the country.
In fact, Xiaomi, as well as many other Chinese high-tech companies, have been supported by the Belt and Road Initiative in recent years as they tap into foreign markets and see their competitiveness snowballed worldwide, especially in the developing countries in Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Together, they have not only offered customers worldwide both quality and more affordable alternatives to end-products by global smartphone giants like Apple and Samsung, but have also been promoting other modern-day information technologies that can change the way of life for local people for the better.
NOT JUST SMARTPHONES
Apart from Russia, Xiaomi has over the past few years achieved notable market success and become increasingly popular in other countries. The company ranks the third in smartphone sales in both Indonesia and Ukraine, according to Lei Jun, chairman and CEO of Xiaomi.
In India, another market Xiaomi has invested very heavily, the company released late last month a new model of smartphone called Redmi note 4A. So far, its monthly sales have surpassed 1.5 million. In a recent interview with Xinhua, Lei said the most important advantage the products of his company boast is their higher level of cost efficiency to the international big name competitors.
"In the past, only those with medium or high incomes were able to enjoy the high-tech products, a scenario we hope to change, and we are working to enable more people to have access to the latest technologies," Xiaomi's Senior Vice President Wang Xiang told Xinhua.
According to Lei, Xiaomi stresses very much on research and development of technologies and innovation. He noted that the company filed for over 7,000 patents globally last year alone on technologies developed on its own.
He also said Xiaomi is working hard on two fronts now. One is to attempt breakthroughs on core technologies like chips, while the other is to strike cross-licensing deals with the world's telecommunication giants like Microsoft and Qualcomm so as to avoid patent disputes in its ever expanding foreign adventures.
Besides smartphones, Xiaomi has also been promoting its wearable fitness-tracking devices like smart wristbands. According to International Data Corporation (IDC), Xiaomi has been the world's second largest wearable device vendors for two consecutive years since 2015.
The IDC also reported that Mi band 2, Xiaomi's latest smart bracelet, is the highest selling heart rate sensing fitness tracker in India in the fourth quarter of 2016.
"The essence of the Belt and Road initiative lies in the fact that it has promoted cooperation and collective development of the countries on its routes," said Wang.
It has improved the environment for the growth of the economies and enterprises, he said, adding that Xiaomi has benefited from the initiative and forged harmonized and stable partnership for win-win result with the firms covered by the initiative.
KNITTING INFORMATION NETWORKS
Meanwhile, Chinese companies, especially those that are hosted and supported by Zhongguancun, a high-tech hub in the Chinese capital city, are also trying to share with other countries their expertise in telecommunication and information technologies.
In 2015, China's DaTang Telecom signed a cooperation agreement with Ecuador's Yachay City of Knowledge to build a 4G TD-LTE laboratory.
The 4G TD-LTE is China's homegrown fourth generation telecommunications technology. The latest GSMA Intelligence data show that in Latin America, 4G connections more than doubled in 2016, up from 51 million a year earlier, suggesting a fast growing market demand.
According to the pact, Datang is going to prepare the Ecuadorian side in its efforts to apply the 4G telecommunication networks in the country and train for it a team of professionals.
Also, Beijing Xinwei Technology Group -- which is engaged in the customized solution provision for telecommunications carriers, vendors, service suppliers and component manufacturers -- has in recent years cooperated with telecommunications operators in Cambodia, Russia, Ukraine and Tanzania, in the capacity of a provider of technologies and equipment for public networks there.
Apart from that, Sida Times -- a Beijing-based TV network provider -- now has become the fastest growing digital TV operator in Africa. It is now doing business in 20 African nations like Kenya and South Africa with more than eight million subscribers.
NEW DAWN FOR E-COMMERCE & FINANCE
With the widespread use of mobile telecommunications technologies, a new age for electronic commerce is also dawning and some Chinese firms are spearing ahead.
Jack Ma, founder of China's e-commerce giant Alibaba group, made a proposal earlier this year in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur for setting up an e-commerce hub in the Southeast Asian country.
With the plan, Alibaba seeks to work with the Malaysian government in developing a digital free trade zone in the country so as to empower local small-and-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and to boost regional free trade. It is also part of Ma's efforts to promote the idea of building the Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP).
Tang Joo Shen is the sales director of an instant coffee manufacturing firm based in Malaysia's southern city of Melaka, known as Aik Cheong Coffee. The business, born in 1955, is one of most popular local coffee brand. Aik Cheong Coffee sells its products in a dozen of countries, like China, the United States, Canada, as well as other European and Asian nations.
However, Tang complained that trade protectionism has in recent years been a big challenge for his company, with some countries slapping up to 30 percent tariffs on coffee products. He believes that the Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP) can help refresh the global trading system that fits this era of the Internet, which will make it easier for the developing economies and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to get better access to global markets.
Also in Beijing's Zhongguancun, IZP Technologies, a group company of Internet cross-border trade and big data, is also using modern-day science and technology to serve international traders from Europe to Africa and to the Middle East in a smarter way.
The company mainly focuses on offering a payment system to allow direct settlement between the Chinese yuan and local currency and a Visa-like payment card that also promises lower fees. The IZP is also setting up a "big data" platform with data mining capabilities claiming to offer up to date information.
TOWARD COMMON DEVELOPMENT
The Belt and Road Initiative, which comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, was brought up by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, with the aim of building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road routes. So far, China has invested more than 50 billion U.S. dollars into the program. It has won support from over 100 countries and international bodies, and more than 40 of them have signed cooperation agreements with China.
The Zhongguancun Administrative Committee -- the government's administrative organ that oversees the development of the high-tech hub -- has for years played a key role in encouraging Chinese technology companies to explore foreign marketplace within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. Zeng Xiaodong, international business director of the committee, told Xinhua that technology cooperation has been one of his organization's priorities to achieve win-win outcomes.
As Xiaomi is selling cell phones in Indonesia, it is also building factories there. It also plans to 100 percent localize production of its smartphone products in the Southeast Asian nation as of 2017. Its investment moves would mean lots of job opportunities for the local population.
In Ecuador, DaTang's program is also going to help with the nation's job creation and to upgrade its industries. Ultimately, the project will play a positive role in promoting telecommunications development both in the country and in the South America continent.
In his speech at the World Economic Forum in the skiing resort of Davos, Switzerland, Xi said the initiative originated in China, but it has delivered benefits well beyond its borders.
By improving infrastructure inter-connectivity, the Belt and Road creates a better base for economic development in many countries, said Boston Consulting Group (BCG) Chairman Hans-Paul Buerkner at the forum earlier this year.
Specifically, "it will bring more people together, providing more opportunities to have jobs, as more small and medium-sized enterprises alongside are expected to be established," said Buerkner.