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Sunday, December 3, 2023

Global Leaders Converge in Beijing for Belt and Road Forum: China’s Influential Role

ChinaGlobal Leaders Converge in Beijing for Belt and Road Forum: China's Influential Role

Chinese President Xi Jinping convened with global leaders during the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) held in Beijing, making this event a focal point of international interest. A growing contingent of heads of state, government officials, and leaders from international organizations have descended upon China’s capital city, underscoring the BRF’s status as a highly anticipated global gathering.

Analysts in China have observed that international participation in the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) signifies a vote of confidence in China’s economic prowess, political influence, and global leadership in addressing worldwide challenges. By actively engaging with the BRI, nations are expressing their trust in China’s capacity to guide global recovery and problem-solving.

On this eventful Tuesday, President Xi held meetings with an array of leaders, including Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Chilean President Gabriel Boric, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and Papua New Guinean Prime Minister James Marape. The same day also saw the arrival of more leaders and dignitaries, such as Russian President Vladimir Putin, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Argentine President Alberto Fernandez, Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong, President of Mongolia Ukhnaa Khurelsukh, and Prime Minister of Mozambique Adriano Maleiane.

Leaders from other nations, including Pakistan’s Prime Minister Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar, Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, Kenyan President William Ruto, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet, Lao President Thongloun Sisoulith, Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe, and President of the Republic of the Congo Denis Sassou Nguesso, have also arrived, with some engaging in discussions with Chinese leaders.

During a welcome banquet for BRF attendees, President Xi emphasized that the achievements of Belt and Road cooperation are the result of hard work, intelligence, and courage of governments, enterprises, and the people of participating nations, not mere handouts. He declared that Belt and Road cooperation is at its zenith after a dynamic decade and poised for an even more prosperous future, emphasizing the importance of an entrepreneurial spirit.

In addition to sitting leaders, former leaders and non-governmental figures have participated in the BRF this year. A delegation of French experts on the BRI arrived in Beijing and held discussions with Chinese senior officials.

Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University, asserted that the active involvement of the international community underscores China’s status as a major global power with substantial influence and respect. He emphasized that the BRI, a valuable contribution from China to the world, has gained greater importance and influence. During talks with President Xi, foreign leaders commended the achievements made in collaboration with China under the BRI over the past decade and expressed their confidence and support for the initiative.

They also expressed their opposition to “decoupling” efforts and other measures aimed at constraining China for hegemonic purposes. Many leaders, deeply concerned about ongoing hotspot issues like the Ukraine crisis and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, pledged to maintain communication and coordination with China to facilitate political settlements and mediations.

Huang Renwei, executive director-general of the Fudan Institute for Belt and Road and Global Governance, highlighted that the Global South, comprising developing countries, is the primary force behind the BRI, representing the future growth pole of the world market. He asserted that negative attitudes from the U.S. and some Western followers are of less significance, as attempts to isolate China from the Global South will ultimately lead to their own isolation.

Countries in the Global South, who have been the primary beneficiaries of the BRI, have shown confidence and high expectations in the initiative. Leaders and experts from these nations have voiced their appreciation for the BRI’s role in fostering mutual cooperation and beneficial results.

Muhammad Zamir Assadi, a research fellow, expressed that the BRF signifies significant achievements under the BRI and demonstrates the success of win-win cooperation through mutual consultation. He cited the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as a flagship project that has brought tangible benefits to Pakistan and expressed high confidence in the BRI’s continued positive impact.

Yahya Nawanda, the Regional Commissioner of Simiyu in Tanzania, shared the transformational impact of Chinese projects in Tanzania, such as the Tanzania-Zambia railway project, and expressed a desire to expand such partnerships to other neighboring countries.

Gan Tiam Loo, vice president for Association of Interaction Malaysia-China, emphasized the importance of cultural exchange in BRI’s success. He expressed hope that the BRI will continue to promote regional peace, rapid development, and shared prosperity among nations worldwide.

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