The Belt and Road Initiative Progress, Contributions and Prospects
22 Apr., 2019  |  Source: Belt and Road Portal  |  Hits:10402

5. Closer people-to-people ties

People-to-people ties are the cultural foundation for building the Belt and Road. It is the common dream of all peoples to enjoy a peaceful and prosperous life. Over the past five years or so, the B&R countries have carried out diplomatic activities and cultural exchanges of various forms in wide fields, enhancing mutual understanding and recognition and laying a solid cultural foundation for furthering the initiative.

1) Diverse forms of cultural exchange. China and other B&R countries have hosted events such as arts festivals, film festivals, music festivals, cultural relics exhibitions, and book fairs, and have jointly launched new publishing, radio, film and television programs, as well as translating and introducing each other's media programs. The Silk Road International League of Theaters, Silk Road International Museum Alliance, Network of Silk Road Arts Festivals, Silk Road International Library Alliance, and Silk Road International Alliance of Art Museums and Galleries have been established. China, CEE countries, ASEAN countries, Russia, Nepal, Greece, Egypt, and South Africa have hosted activities to celebrate the cultures of B&R countries in different years, and developed about a dozen cultural exchange brands such as the "Silk Road Tour" and "Chinese/African Cultures in Focus". Major cultural festivals and expos have been launched such as the Silk Road (Dunhuang) International Cultural Expo, Silk Road International Arts Festival, and Maritime Silk Road International Arts Festival, and 17 Chinese culture centers have been set up in B&R countries. China has signed cooperation agreements on the protection of cultural heritage with Indonesia, Myanmar, Serbia, Singapore, and Saudi Arabia. Through a combined effort from China, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, Silk Roads: The Routes Network of Chang'an-Tian Shan Corridor has become a UNESCO World Heritage site. Steady progress has been made in the Belt and Road News Alliance. The Silk Road NGO Cooperation Network, with 310 members, has become an important platform for non-governmental cooperation.

2) Fruitful results in education and training. The Chinese Government Scholarship - Silk Road Program has been set up, and China has signed agreements with 24 B&R countries on the mutual recognition of higher education degrees. In 2017, 38,700 students from other B&R countries studied in China on scholarships provided by the Chinese government, accounting for 66 percent of all students receiving such scholarships. Other B&R scholarships are provided in the Hong Kong and Macao SARs. China has opened 153 Confucius Institutes and 149 Confucius Classrooms in 54 B&R countries. The Chinese Academy of Sciences offers scholarships in Master's and Doctorate programs to other B&R countries, and runs science and technology training courses which have trained some 5,000 students from other B&R countries.

3) Expanding cooperation in tourism. China has held joint year of tourism with many other B&R countries, initiating cooperation mechanisms such as the Silk Road Tourism Promotion Union, Maritime Silk Road Tourism Promotion Alliance, and Tea Road International Tourism Alliance. China has signed mutual visa exemption agreements for different types of passport with 57 B&R countries, and concluded 19 agreements or arrangements to streamline visa application procedures with 15 countries. In 2018 outbound Chinese tourists numbered 150 million, and inbound foreign tourists numbered 30.54 million. Russia, Myanmar, Viet Nam, Mongolia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore were the main sources of tourists for China.

4) Deeper cooperation in health and medicine. Since the first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, China has signed 56 agreements on cooperation in the health sector with countries such as Mongolia and Afghanistan, international organizations such as the World Health Organization, and NGOs such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In August 2017 the Belt and Road High-Level Meeting for Health Cooperation: Towards a Health Silk Road was held in Beijing, which issued the "Beijing Communiqué of the Belt and Road Health Cooperation". China has carried out cooperation on the prevention and control of AIDS, malaria, dengue, flu, and tuberculosis with Lancang-Mekong countries; on the prevention and control of echinococcosis, plague and other zoonoses with Central Asian countries; and on the prevention and control of polio with Western Asian countries. China has dispatched ophthalmology teams to Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, and Sri Lanka to carry out the "Brightness Action" program, and shortterm medical teams to island countries such as Fiji, Tonga, Micronesia, and Vanuatu in the Pacific. It has established traditional Chinese medicine centers in 35 B&R countries, and 43 international TCM cooperation bases.

5) Ongoing effort in disaster relief, assistance, and poverty alleviation. Since the first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, China has provided RMB2 billion in emergency food assistance to developing countries participating in the initiative, injected an additional US$1 billion to the South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund, and implemented 100 Happy Home Projects, 100 Anti-Poverty Projects, and 100 Health Recovery Projects. China has participated in 8 joint programs for the protection of cultural relics with 6 countries, and 15 joint archeological activities with 12 countries. China has provided Laos and other countries with seismic monitoring equipment to improve their early warning and disaster alleviation capacity. China has initiated 24 cooperation programs with civil society organizations in Cambodia and Nepal, in an effort to improve the lives of local people.

6. Industrial cooperation

The Belt and Road Initiative draws investment from diverse sources, encourages third-party market cooperation, and aims to build industry, supply, service, and value chains that benefit all and are shared by all, so as to provide new growth drivers for faster development in the participating countries.

1) Stable growth in China's direct investment in B&R countries. From 2013 to 2018 China's direct investment in B&R countries surpassed US$90 billion, realizing a turnover of US$400 billion in foreign contracted projects in these countries. In 2018 Chinese businesses made a total of US$15.6 billion in non-financial direct investment in B&R countries, growing by 8.9 percent year on year and accounting for 13 percent of China's total non-financial FDI during the same period. The turnover of foreign contracted projects in B&R countries reached US$89.3 billion, or 53 percent of the total turnover of foreign contracted projects in the same period. According to a World Bank study, the transportation network proposed by the Belt and Road Initiative can lead to a 4.97-percent increase in total FDI flows to B&R countries, a 4.36-percent increase in FDI flows within B&R countries, a 4.63-percent increase in FDI flows from OECD countries, and a 5.75-percent increase in FDI flows from non-B&R countries. (Quote 2)

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