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China Focus: Xi's 'belt and road' prioritize infrastructure

Editor: Bai Yang 丨Xinhua

01-06-2015 08:47 BJT

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BEIJING, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- President Xi Jinping's 'belt and road' initiatives, reviving the ancient Silk Road, have infrastructure and connectivity as their top priority.

The Silk Road economic belt and the 21st century maritime Silk Road are a land-based belt from China via Central Asia and Russia to Europe, and a maritime route through the Straight of Malacca to India, the Middle East and East Africa. In 2014, the ideas began to take shape with a focus on infrastructure.

"The belt and road will start with connectivity," said Chen Fengying, of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, a foreign policy think tank. "Connection is a prerequisite. Only when infrastructure bottlenecks are eliminated can the plan become really effective."

China has plans for major projects to improve connectivity along the routes. During the Beijing APEC summit, Xi announced a 40 billion U.S. dollars Silk Road fund, declaring that before there could be any resurrection of ancient trade routes, there must be an actual road. "Only when there is a road can people and things flow," he said.

China is currently in high-speed rail negotiations with 28 nations, most of which are along the routes, with total length of track over 5,000 km on the agenda

Pang Zhongying of the school of international studies at Renmin University of China, believes the connectivity of traffic infrastructure is gradually turning the concept of the initiatives into concrete projects.

During Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Thailand in December, a memorandum of understanding on railway cooperation was signed. and since the global financial crisis, many countries are searching for new growth engines. Expanding infrastructure is a realistic choice for developing countries, said Pang, benefiting both people and businesses.

Apart from the Silk Road fund, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) advocated by China will also help supply the capital for infrastructure construction. With authorized capital of 100 billion U.S. dollars, the AIIB should be up and running before the end of 2015.

Shi Yinhong of Renmin University of China sees the AIIB as a complement to the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, rather than a rival, critical to infrastructure integration.

"Although the belt and road are proposed by China, all countries and organizations are welcome to take part," said Shi.

 

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