The signing of a memorandum of understanding between China and Italy on Saturday to jointly advance the construction of the Belt and Road is a milestone not just for China but also for the world.
It is a sign that China's Belt and Road Initiative, which is meant to establish better connectivity for the promotion of economic globalization, has started to be accepted by developed countries.
Since it was put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, more than 100 countries have joined the initiative. Yet, until now, none of the developed countries from the G7 was a participant, although the initiative is inclusive and open to any country.
It is concern about China's rise that has made the world's major developed countries hesitate to join the initiative. It may also be because of the pressure from the world's sole superpower which also fears that China's rise may challenge its leading position in the world.
However, what China and its partners have achieved in the construction of the Belt and Road speaks volumes about how the initiative has delivered down-to-earth economic benefits to those countries involved and how it has promoted the development of an open and inclusive world economy.
Rather than being economic aggression as it has been labeled by some in the developed countries, the Belt and Road Initiative, as the participating countries realize, aims to promote win-win economic cooperation, which will hopefully help bridge the development gap between developing and developed countries.
It is also an antidote to the prevailing unilateralism and trade protectionism as far as globalization is concerned. It will get an increasing number of countries involved in economic globalization, which will help them stand together against the rising unilateralism and trade protectionism.
With better connectivity for economic cooperation among a wider range of countries, there will be more possibility for the world economy to pick up steam. Which will hopefully help fight against the rising populism and other forms of extremism.
If only more major developed countries could participate. That would be of great benefit to the development of the world economy. But it is obvious that they need to overcome their suspicions about the initiative first.
Italy's cooperation with China under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative will serve to demonstrate to its G7 partners how they can benefit from collaboration with the world’s second-largest economy.
Just as the memorandum says, the two countries have realized the initiative's great potential to promote connectivity and stand ready to strengthen the alignment of the Belt and Road and the Trans-European Transport Network and deepen their cooperation in ports, logistics, marine transportation and other areas.
The other G7 members should keep an eye on how the cooperation between the two countries unfolds, as they will then appreciate the benefits the Belt and Road Initiative offers them.
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