Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) for International Cooperation in Beijing, capital of China, May 14, 2017. (Xinhua/Ma Zhancheng)
Chinese President Xi Jinping's keynote speech delivered Sunday at the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation has received wide approval from senior officials of foreign countries, China watchers and scholars worldwide.
During the speech, Xi proclaimed the Silk Road spirit, saying it has become a great heritage of human civilization. "Spanning thousands of miles and years, the ancient silk routes embody the spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit," he told an audience of more than 1,500 people from around the world.
Xi also highlighted in the speech that the Belt and Road (B&R) should be built into a belt and road of peace, prosperity, opening up, innovation and connection of different civilizations.
The proposition is in line with the aim of the B&R Initiative the president first proposed in 2013, which comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road routes.
The speech was later praised as a "profound intellectual discourse embracing philosophy, history, international relations and other disciplines" by Keith Bennett, vice chairman of Britain's 48 Group Club, an independent business network committed to promoting relations between Britain and China.
"It proceeds from today's realities, sums up and draws lessons from history and charts a scientific and realistic road map to a bright future of shared and sustainable prosperity for all countries and peoples," Bennett said.
After hearing the speech, David Gosset,a Paris-based global affairs analyst and Sinologist, agreed that the B&R has been "a project of the century" as Xi called, because it combined "movement, clarity of vision and powerful means" that Xi announced during the speech.
"The forum will be a major boost and accelerator for synergies along the roads," Gosset said.
COMMITMENT TO OPEN, GLOBAL ECONOMY
James Laurenceson, deputy director of the Australia-China Relations Institute University of Technology Sydney, also believed that the speech would be received well around the world, "because it emphasized cooperation and an open, global economy."
The professor of economics hailed China's commitment to an open, global economy as "a strength of the initiative and a strength of the speech," because the world "tend to be heading in the opposite direction."
Laurenceson also said what "stuck out" to him the most was Xi's statement about not reinventing the wheel, because the comment he has heard the most about the B&R was that it was "a solely Chinese initiative."
"What he (Xi) is saying is that instead, the Belt and Road is really about building on existing initiatives and leveraging other countries strengths," he said, "In other words, it's not just China. It's China teaming up with other countries to get a better outcome."
The speech also stuck out to Laurenceson as President Xi talked about building a diversified financial system.
"A multi-tiered Belt and Road financial cooperation network has taken an initial shape," Xi said during the speech, "China will also work with other parties concerned to jointly formulate guidelines for financing the Belt and Road-related development projects."
Laurenceson believed the proposed network would be a solution to fund relevant projects along the routes of the B&R.
"Chinese money alone is not going to solve the region's productivity problems, but what it will do is leverage other countries' government contributions and private sector funding. Put those together, and the region stands a good chance of being able to fund the initiatives that are going to be able to provide better productivity," he said.
MORE FUNDS OF 100 BILLION YUAN
As for specific financial support for the B&R Initiative, President Xi announced during the speech that China will contribute an additional 100 billion yuan (about 14.5 billion U.S. dollars) to the Silk Road Fund.
Sultan Mehmood Hali, head of Pakistan-China Media Forum and a senior defense and political analyst, called the move "a great gesture" to offer much help to the implementation of the B&R Initiative.
"It will also pave way and set an example for other nations that are interested in joining the Belt and Road Initiative to contribute funds, so that the initiative becomes successful and beneficial to the entire region and the world," he said.
Echoing Hali, Nepal's Foreign Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat said Xi's announcement was "good news for neighboring countries like Nepal," as Chinese support will be crucial for the country to "upgrade its status from a landlocked and least developed country to a developed country."
"Nepal wants to enhance railway and road inter-connectivity with China, and bring (in) more Chinese investments. We are expecting grants and concessional loans from China to develop infrastructure projects," Mahat said.
Likewise, the B&R Initiative has been of great significance in economic and technological development to Laos, according to Sykhoun Bouvilay, general secretary of Laos-China Friendship Association.
"Just in terms of economic development, Lao's development would suffer a lot without Laos-China cooperation," Bouvilay said, adding that he hoped the forum would bring about more cooperation between the two countries.
Owing to President Xi's speech, he said more focus should be put on environment protection and the people's livelihood when talking about development, particularly "issues on people's survival and basic living in countries along the routes of the B&R."
Bouvilay also saw China as "a representative of modernization" with its rapid development in science and technology and "a role model for the world."
"China's industries and technologies have surpassed those of many countries, and now they need to buy relevant products from China," he added.