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China faces opportunity and challenge in West Asia, Africa

Editor: Tong Xinxin 丨CCTV.com

11-11-2015 14:03 BJT

By Yang Fuchang, former deputy minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

China has achieved great progress in the Belt and Road Initiative since it was proposed two years ago. The initiative has been welcome at home and abroad including West Asian and North African nations seeking to boost their national economies.

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The Chinese government has promoted the Belt and Road Initiative in following ways: First, on March 28, the National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Commerce issued “the Vision and Actions on Jointly Building Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

Second, China offered opportunities for new, mainly high-tech cooperation including satellite, new energy and nuclear power.

Third, China proposed the production capacity cooperation, providing overseas partners with not only products, but also technical transfer.

To improve financial cooperation, China has contributed $40 billion to set up a Silk Road fund and jointly set up with BRICS member countries the BRICS Development Bank with initial capital of US$100 billion and contingency reserve.  With other 56 prospective founding states, China also jointly established the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) with US$100 billion authorized capital.

It’s worth noting the China-Africa Development Fund has raised capital from $3 billion to $5 billion, and China has increased its preferential loans to Africa from $20 billion to $30 billion.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative will benefit the needs of its own and West Asian and North African countries. Both sides are supplementary in terms of the latter’s rich  energy and China’s advanced  manufacturing industry, as well as the latter’s  urgent needs in infrastructure development and China’s  strong expertise and rich experience in this area.

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said the developing world annually spends about US$1 trillion on infrastructure and the Asian Development Bank annually invests US$700 billion. With so much capital invested in infrastructure, if these countries maintain the current trend, at least US$1 trillion will be needed each year until 2020.

With rich experience in infrastructure construction and massive capacity for steel, cement and machinery production, China has an opportunity to cooperate with West Asia and Africa.

Politically, China has maintained its long-term friendship with African and Arab countries and trusted each other as reliable friends .

After the 2008 economic crisis, China became the world's second-largest economy. Arab countries increasingly prefer to “look East” and embrace China’s Belt and Road Initiative which is to open up westward. The mutual needs of the two sides offer favorable political conditions for cooperation.

Nevertheless, cooperation between China, West Asia and North Africa also faces challenges. Due to its generally stable political landscape with  an average annual economic growth of 5 percent, Africa is now globally recognized as an important emerging market,  which also plays a critical role in world political arena. China has achieved economic results in African countries including Sudan, Ethiopia, South Africa, Algeria and Angola.

West Asia is not as lucky as Africa. Five years of political turmoil have plunged some nations, including big countries like Egypt, into economic and social turbulence. China’s economic cooperation with the countries in West Asia involves complementary advantages and challenges.

African countries will provide a favorable environment for acceptance of China’s standards and suggestions for cooperation. Because West Asian countries are generally more powerful than African countries, so they have more bargaining chips at their disposal. The unsolved security problem of West Asia affects corporate entry. Additionally,  West Asian countries maintain a traditional close relations with Europe and also are conservative about national protectionism.

These issues may bring challenges to the Belt and Road Initiative. However, China and Arab countries will surely benefit from the initiative as the Arab area has been an important Silk Road hub since ancient times.

 

( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )

 

 

Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

 

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