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The Belt and Road Initiative: Towards a Community of Shared Future for Mankind--Speech by Ambassador Sun Weidong at the Lecture on the Belt and Road Initiative
2017/05/05

(3 May 2017, Islamabad)

Honorable Senator Mushahid Hussain, Chairman of Parliamentary Committee on CPEC,

Honorable Senators, Parliamentarians and Ambassadors,

Distinguished guests from Think-tanks and Media,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Aslam Alegum and a very good afternoon to all of you!

Welcome to this lecture on the Belt and Road Initiative. China-Pakistan friendship is a model of state-to-state relations nurtured by the peoples of China and Pakistan for decades and generations. It is a common wealth of our two people. We call Pakistan “iron brother” and we are deeply proud of such a unique friendship. I would like to take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt thanks to all of you for your long-term commitment to China-Pakistan friendship. I also would like to express my sincere thanks to Senator Mushahid Hussain and Pakistan China Institute for their great efforts in deepening China-Pakistan friendship.

On May 14 and 15, Chinese President Xi Jinping will be hosting the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing. Leaders from 28 countries including Pakistan and UN Secretary-General will attend the Forum. There are also representatives from 110 countries and 61 international organizations will participate. Guests from all over the world will gather together and discuss cooperation on the Belt and Road construction under the theme of win-win cooperation. This Forum will leave heavy and beautiful colors to the magnificent scroll of the community of shared future for mankind.

The Belt and Road Initiative is a buzz word in the world now. If you Google “belt and road”, you will get over 115 million results. We often say that the China Pakistan Economic Corridor is a pilot project of the Belt and Road Initiative. I believe Pakistani friends want to have a better understanding about the Belt and Road Initiative, and know what benefits it will bring to Pakistan and the entire region. Today, I would like to take this opportunity to share my views and understanding in this regard.

The first point I want to make is that the Belt and Road Initiative is a great achievement originated from the history of human civilizations exchanges.

In 2013, President Xi Jinping proposed the great ideas of building the Silk Road Economic belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road in Kazakhstan and Indonesia respectively. In general, we call them the Belt and Road Initiative. This initiative has injected a new momentum into the ancient silk road, and has made the connection between Asia, Europe and Africa closer.

As you may know, a British academic, Mr. Peter Frankopan, recently wrote a book name the Silk Roads: a New History of the World. It soon becomes a bestseller in many countries. The book highly praises the history of the silk road, and calls it a condensed global history and a brief history of humanity.

I was impressed by some words in the book. The author said that more than 2,000 years ago, the trade network known as the silk road was established. When President Xi Jinping announced the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013, it aroused people's memory about prosperity which used to be familiar to them long time ago.

Over the past thousands of years, China’s four great inventions, namely paper-making, printing, compass, gunpowder, silk, tea, porcelain, medicine were spread to the west along the Silk Road. The pepper, sugar from the South Asian subcontinent, the frankincense and glass from the Arabian Area were brought to China along the Silk Road too. Buddhism was also brought to China and took roots in the land of China. It now becomes an important part of traditional Chinese culture. Silk Road not only enriched the people’s daily life, but also promoted the progress of both Eastern and Western civilization. The Eastern and Western civilization then jointly wrote the splendid history of exchange of the human civilization.

Pakistani friends drink tea, and you call the tea “chay”. It is interesting that we Chinese call the tea “cha”, which has the similar pronunciation. The English word tea has a similar pronunciation to what the China’s southern coastal dialect “Teh”. These two different pronunciation of tea have their different origin.

Some scholars have found that “cha”, “chay” or similar pronunciation could be found in northern China, Mongolia, Central Asian and South Asian countries, and even could be extended to Asia Minor and Russia. It could be traced back to the 8th Century when it was spread through the Silk Road from China to Central Asia, South Asian subcontinent and the Eurasia. The pronunciation of “Tea” was spread from the coastal area of China’s southern Fujian Province to the rest of the world as early as in the 19th century along the maritime trade routes. I think that Pakistani friends should be proud of your pronunciation of “Chay” because you may have tasted the Chinese authentic tea far ahead of the European countries. Imaging more than 1,000 years ago, your ancestors enjoyed the scent and flavor of Chinese tea in hot summer, while the tinkling of camel bells echoes along the Silk Road.

The Belt and Road Initiative follows the historical footprints of our ancestors. It is the revival of the ancient Silk Road. It covers two routes of land and sea of Silk Road, yet the scope is far wider. It opens to the world.

Over the past thousands of years, our ancestors labored, lived and multiplied along the Silk Road, creating and developing the rich and colorful civilization. They were carrying the virtue of peaceful cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning, mutual benefit and win-win spirit. This is the great spirit of the Silk Road. Today, we are building the Belt and Road Initiative so as to make this spirit shining again.

My second point is that the Belt and Road Initiative is based on traditional Chinese culture. Its key words are “peace”, “development” and “cooperation”.

Mr. Peter Frankopan mentioned in his book that, China is better at taking precautions in advance than any other countries, and is more willing to learn about the past of other countries, and draw lessons from history. To achieve this, respect and prudence is very much needed as the Chinese leaders have said. The idea of Belt and Road Initiative meant for the benefit of the world, and it will provide a golden opportunity for deep cooperation. China’s development is peaceful, friendly and civilized. It will benefit rather than threaten other countries.

I think the above words has expressed the essence of Chinese traditional culture. The concept of “harmony and cooperation” is the primary value and the essence of the Chinese culture. The Chinese consider peace as the most precious thing and pursue harmonious inter-state relations. The philosophy that all the people of the world are brothers are deep rooted in Chinese community. The Chinese philosopher Confucius said 2000 years ago that, don’t do unto others what you don’t want others do unto you, and to help others is to help themselves. These ideas have become Chinese people’s motto.

I believe some Pakistani friends may know the story of Zheng He's Voyages. 600 years ago, in the Ming Dynasty of China, the great navigator Zheng was ordered by Chinese Emperor to voyage the western Pacific and the Indian Ocean for seven times from China. He led twenty thousand people and more than two hundred ships with him. They visited more than 30 countries and regions, of which the farthest included the East Africa and the Red Sea. According to Ming History records, the largest boat in Zheng He’s fleet is more than 130 meters in length and 50 meters in width. Its displacement exceeds 10,000 tons. To make a comparison, about half a century later, the Italian navigator Columbus discovered the Americas with the ship Santa Maria, whose displacement is only 100 tons.

Zheng He used the biggest and strongest fleet at that time, to bring trade, civilization, peace and cultural exchange in stead of colonial rule and plunder wherever he arrived. And this is the best embodiment of China's concept of harmony and cooperation .

The Belt and Road Initiative is a Chinese program with the cultural gene of harmony and cooperation. China has implemented the reform and opening up policy for nearly 40 years and more than 700 million people have gotten rid of poverty. When Chinese have lived a better life, we hope that more people of other countries can enjoy a better life as well. We would like to achieve common developments with countries along the Belt and Road and share the results of cooperation.

At present, the China's economic development has entered a new normal state. The growth speed, development pattern, economic structure and development drive are undergoing major changes. In 2016, Chinese GDP growth rate was 6.7%. The increment exceeds the total GDP amount in the past when the growth rate reached double-digit, and is equivalent to the total economy of a medium-sized country. In the first quarter of this year, China's GDP grew by 6.9%, which is the fastest growth rate in the last 6 quarters. Given that the global economy is facing a downturn, it is not easy for China’s economy to maintain a strong momentum of development. The international communities are optimistic about China's prospects and we also have full confidence in our future.

China will continue to achieve an economic growth with a medium and high speed towards a medium high end level. In the next five years, China will import goods amounting 8 trillion US dollars, absorb 600 billion US dollars of foreign investment, and the total amount of foreign investment will reach 750 billion US dollars. The number of Chinese outbound tourism will reach 700 million per year. These will provide a broader market , more sufficient capital and richer products for the rest of the world, and will provide stronger support for the Belt and Road construction. China welcomes all the countries to board China's economic high-speed train to achieve common developments.

My third point is that the Belt and Road Initiative is an important international public goods which will benefit all countries.

On April 29, last Saturday, the first London-Yiwu cargo train arrived at Yiwu city, China after a 19 days journey and a coverage of 12 thousands kilometers across the Asia-Euro continent. This is the first cargo train which takes products made in UK to China by railways. It saved one month time compared to cargo shipping, and 20% cost compared to air transportation. It is one of the freight train connecting China, Spain, Russia, Belarus, Latvia, UK, Central Asian countries, Iran, Afghan now days. Every country along the route could enjoy the benefits from the Belt and Road cooperation.

The Belt and Road Initiative is an important international public goods provided by China. And what is a public goods? It is something consulted, made and shared by all.

Belt and Road Initiative brings the intelligence of all human being together. Its development route is open and inclusive. We oppose any kind of insular and exclusiveness, and believe only openness can bring energy and progress. As President Xi Jinping once said, “China's development has benefited from the international community, and we are ready to provide more public goods to the international community. I have proposed the initiative of building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road to share China's development opportunities with countries along the Belt and Road and achieve common prosperity. ”

The Belt and Road initiative has been widely involved by regional countries and international community. The past three years have witnessed the launching, expansion, faster-than-expected progress and fruitful outcomes of the Belt and Road Initiative. More than 100 countries and international organizations have joined this Initiative, among which over 40 have signed cooperation agreements and MoUs with China.

Belt and Road Initiative currently covers more than 4.3 billion people, with a total economic output of more than 21 trillion US dollars. In 2016, the total foreign trade volume between China and Belt and Road route countries amounted to 1 trillion US dollars. China signed construction contracts worth of 126 billion US dollars, with a growth of 36%. Totally FDI reached 14.5 billion US dollars, accounting for 8.5% of China's total foreign investment. Among these countries, Chinese enterprises have built 56 economic and trade cooperation zones in more than 20 countries, involving more than 18 billion US dollars, creating tax of nearly 1.1 billion US dollars and generating 180,000 direct jobs.

The United Nations General Assembly, the UN Security Council, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, APEC, ASEM and the Great Mekong Sub-region Cooperation have incorporated or reflected the Belt and Road cooperation in their relevant resolutions and documents.

Economic corridors are making steady progress. An interconnected infrastructure network is taking shape. Trade and investment has increased significantly. Key project cooperation is underway, and a number of important early harvests have been made. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and Silk Road Fund have provided firm support to financial cooperation. Belt and Road initiative has become an important undertaking of all parties. It also provided new development opportunities for the enhancement of the well-being of the people.

My fourth point is that the Belt and Road Initiative answers the profound call of the times and leads to the great goal of building a Community of Share Future for Mankind.

At present, with the further deepening of economic globalization, the world becomes inter-dependent in an unprecedented way. However, the world economic recovery is still fragile. There are rising protectionism, louder voices against globalization. The process of global economic integration is under strong challenge. There are two different voices in the international community, one regards economic globalization the trend of the times, the other takes it as fierce floods and savage beasts.

Here I would like to share an ancient Chinese story, it may inspire us on dealing with economic globalization. In the very old times, when there were terrible floods over the Yellow River, the Emperor ordered the father Gun and his son Dayu to tame the flood. Gun tries to block the flood. But no matter how hard he tried, he failed and lost his life finally. Then, his son Dayu learned from his father’s lessons. Instead of making blocks, he made use of the nature of water flow, making dredges and channels, building dams and reservoirs when necessary. Finally, he tamed the flood in success and was recognized as a great hero of China.

Today, facing the opportunities and challenges brought by economic globalization, we need to make choice between Gun and Dayu. Economic globalization brings billions of people from different regions, races, countries and ethnic groups together, optimizes worldwide allocation of resource, promotes international division of labor and promotes development of human civilization in an unprecedented pace. This trend is unstoppable just as thousands of rivers go down to the ocean. Any attempt to cut off the flow of capital, technologies, products, industries and people between economies, and channel the waters in the ocean back into isolated lakes and creeks is simply not possible. Indeed, it runs counter to the historical trend.

In such circumstances, what shall the human kind do? China’s proposal is to build a community of shared future for mankind and achieve shared and win-win development. President Xi Jinping of China pointed out that we should pass on the torch of peace from generation to generation, sustain development and make civilization flourish. All countries should jointly shape the future of the world, write international rules, manage global affairs and ensure that development outcomes are shared by all.

How to materialize that? I think one of the major actions is to promote the Belt and Road initiative. This Initiative goes beyond the boundaries of ideological values, so that countries along the initiative could enjoy a greater level of integration and cooperation.

Here, I would like to point out a very interesting phenomenon if you look into the world map. Economically developed regions of the world usually are coastal areas. Inland cities and countries are relatively lacking behind. Looking through the lens of history and reality, an important reason behind is that the vast majority of the world's trade are through the oceans. Farther distance to the sea means greater disadvantage to trade and connectivity.

The very aim of the Belt and Road initiative is to promote regional connectivity, shorten the gap between inner lands and coastal areas and let more countries and regions participate in the process of globalization and industrialization, so as to solve the problem of imbalance during the process of economic globalization. This conforms to the development needs of the regional countries and the trend of the times.

The Belt and Road initiative firmly grasps the key linkage of connectivity, opens up global distribution channels of production factors, contributing to a balanced, inclusive and shared benefits of economic globalization. This initiative focuses on policy communication, road connectivity, unimpeded trade, currency circulation and people-to-people bonds between countries. It promotes a higher degree of integration and interdependence, leads to the great goal of building a community of shared future for mankind.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

My fifth point is that China and Pakistan can play a major role in promoting the Belt and Road initiative as all-weather strategic cooperative partners.

The foreign minister of China Wang Yi once said that, if the Belt and Road initiative is the symphony benefiting many countries, the CPEC will be the first sweet chapter.

Among the countries along the Belt and Road initiative, CPEC is one of the earliest, fastest and most effective projects. Over the past three years, 19 early-harvest projects are under smooth construction with a total contract amount of 18.5 billion USD. With the completion of some of the major projects in 2017 and 2018, CPEC will step into the period of early-harvest. As the flagship of the Belt and Road initiative, CPEC has accumulated valuable experiences for China, Pakistan and even the countries of the region to promote the initiative.

Among these valuable experiences, the first is to adhere to the principle of scientific planning and top-level design.

China and Pakistan jointly established the “1+4” cooperative layout and opened all-dimensional cooperation. Both sides established JCC mechanism and have successfully held six meetings, identifying Gwadar port, energy, infrastructure transportation, industrial cooperation as the four key areas. At present, both sides are working for CPEC medium-to-long term planning to establish a higher level relationship of cooperation.

The second is to adhere to the basic principle of mutual benefit and win-win cooperation.

China and Pakistan always enjoy equal treatment, make decisions by consensus, fully accommodate and take care of each other's needs in cooperation. Huge energy shortage was a bottleneck constraining Pakistan’s economic growth and people's lives. After consulting with the Pakistani side, China gave priority of cooperation to energy. Now, it grows fastest among the four key areas of CPEC. 11 of the 19 early harvest projects go to energy projects. After their completion, they will increase the electricity capital of about 11000MW, greatly ease the energy shortage and bring more vitality and dynamics to Pakistan’s economic development.

I have an example to share with you. Zonergy solar power project is listed as CPEC “early harvest” project. The energization of the first 300MW in Phase One was achieved in March last year. It is the first completed energy project in priority projects in CPEC. According to the statistic data, approximately 459 million KWH could be generated every year and will meet 30% electricity demand of Bahawalpur region. This will directly benefit 190,000 families, and local schools, factories and hospitals. In addition, Zonergy has paid PKR 1.033 billion of taxes & levies and makes an important contribution to improving the local financial situation.

A power plant of only 300MW could bring such big changes to local development and improvement of livelihood. We can imagine what CPEC will bring to Pakistan after the large projects of energy and infrastructure are completed.

Under construction of CPEC, China's cooperation projects adopt international advanced standards and technology. They will not bring environmental problems to Pakistan. China will not transfer outdated capacity productions here. The CPEC construction will not increase the financial burden of Pakistan.

The third experience is CPEC faces the whole country and benefits all Pakistani people.

At present, CPEC projects cover all the provinces and regions of Pakistan. According to an incomplete statistics, Chinese enterprises have employed 60,000 Pakistani work inside and outside the CPEC projects, more than 19,000 people are directly employed in present CPEC projects. Some of the Pakistani employees are sent to be trained in China by Chinese enterprises and become the backbone of bilateral cooperation.

Chinese enterprises are also actively fulfilling their social responsibilities, including donating generators, water purifiers, electric fans and other living equipment to local people, funding a number of Pakistani students, teachers and doctors to study or be trained in China. In 2016, the Gwadar Faqueer primary school was completed with Chinese donation. It is the first completed CPEC livelihood project and warmly welcomed by the local people. Besides, last year a total of 3,500 Pakistani students went to study in China sponsored by Chinese government scholarships, making Pakistan the country with the largest number of students learning in China with scholarships.

CPEC will not only benefit China and Pakistan, but also bring peace, stability and prosperity to the region. It upholds the principle of openness and inclusiveness, adhere to promoting the construction of all the projects in an open, transparent, comprehensive and balanced manner. It will benefit all the countries in this region and does not aim at any third parties. Here I would also like to make a free advertisement. Pakistan-China Institute chaired by Senator Mushahid and China Radio International jointly set up the "China-Pakistan Economic Corridor" website. We welcome everyone to log on the website and find general information and latest progress information of CPEC projects.

The fourth experience is leveraging both on economic development and security.

China and Pakistan always put the construction and security on the same important position. We have established security cooperation mechanism at various levels, keep alert on security all the time. Pakistan has attached great importance to the security of CPEC projects and personnel, an in this regard established a special security division of nearly 14,000 people. We highly appreciate the efforts made by the Pakistanis side.

China and Pakistan has unique advantages in promoting CPEC. We are all-weather strategic cooperative partners. The people of the two countries are so close to each other from their hearts. We have solid political foundation for cooperation. The two countries are highly complementary to each other in terms of industrial structure and development level. Through CPEC and The Belt and Road Initiative, the fate of the two countries would be closely linked which will lead to mutual benefit and joint development. This will be a successful example for developing countries to pursue mutual beneficial cooperation and build a community of shared future for mankind.

Here, I would like to stress that bilateral economic and trade cooperation between China and Pakistan will also face new opportunities with the smooth progress of the construction of CPEC. China is not only Pakistan's largest trading partner, but also Pakistan's second largest export destination. China attaches importance to bilateral trade balance. We never pursuit unilateral trade surplus. We welcome Pakistan exports marketable products to China and would like to provide facilitation in this regards. It is totally groundless to report that Pakistan is not producing goods that China needs. For example, the shirt I am wearing was made in Pakistan and my favorite fruit is Pakistani mango.

The Chinese side believes that the CPEC will help Pakistan to improve the energy supply, enhance transport infrastructure, thus inspiring its investment and business environment. At the same time, China is willing to strengthen production capacity cooperation between China and Pakistan for the enhancement of international competitiveness of Pakistan's industries and promote the healthy development of bilateral trade. China's door is always open to Pakistani products.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to conclude with a short story. In a construction site, there are some workers working hard under the burning sun. When they were asked what are you doing? The first worker said angrily, I am carrying the bricks. The second one said coldly, I am building a wall. But the third man said with pride that I am building a magnificent palace.

This story tells us that heights comes from vision, impetus are determined by objectives. When people consciously engage themselves in a grand undertaking, our blueprint will become reality.

Promoting the Belt and Road Initiative and build a community of shared future for all mankind is unprecedented practice in human history. It is the great and grand palace in our hearts.

China and Pakistan are good neighbors, friends, partners,and brothers. Let us work together towards this goal and make our due contribution to build a peaceful, safe, open and prosperous new world. We are building this grand palace together!

Long live China-Pakistan friendship!

Thank you.

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