Since 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative, with policy coordination, connectivity of infrastructure, unimpeded trade, financial integration and closer people-to-people ties as its main goals, has advanced in solid steps. Significant progress has been made, including a number of landmark early results. Participating countries have obtained tangible benefits, and their appreciation of and participation in the initiative is growing.
Policy coordination is an important guarantee for this initiative, and an essential precondition for joint actions. Over the past five years or so, China has engaged in thorough communication and coordination with participating countries and international organizations, and reached a broad consensus on international cooperation for building the Belt and Road.
1. The Belt and Road Initiative has been incorporated into important documents of international organizations. The initiative and its core concepts have been written into documents from the United Nations, G20, APEC and other international and regional organizations. In July 2015, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization issued the "Ufa Declaration of the Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization", showing support for the Silk Road Economic Belt initiative. In September 2016, the "G20 Leaders' Communiqué" adopted at the G20 Hangzhou Summit endorsed an initiative to establish the Global Infrastructure Connectivity Alliance. In November 2016, the 193 UN member states adopted by consensus a resolution, welcoming the Belt and Road Initiative and other economic cooperation initiatives and urging the international community to ensure a secure environment for these initiatives. In March 2017, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2344, calling on the international community to strengthen regional economic cooperation through the Belt and Road Initiative and other development initiatives, while for the first time enshrining the concept of "a community of shared future for mankind". In January 2018, the Second Ministerial Meeting of the Forum of China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) was held in Santiago and adopted the "Special Declaration on the Belt and Road Initiative". In July the same year, the Eighth Ministerial Meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF) was convened in Beijing, which adopted the "Declaration of Action on China-Arab States Belt and Road Cooperation". In September the FOCAC Beijing Summit adopted the "Beijing Declaration－Toward an Even Stronger China-Africa Community with a Shared Future" and the "Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Beijing Action Plan (2019-2021)".
2. More and more countries and international organizations have signed intergovernmental cooperation agreements on the Belt and Road Initiative. In the B&R framework, all participating countries and international organizations, based on the principle of seeking common ground while reserving differences, have exchanged views on economic development plans and policies and discussed and agreed economic cooperation plans and measures. By the end of March 2019, the Chinese government had signed 173 cooperation agreements with 125 countries and 29 international organizations. The Belt and Road has expanded from Asia and Europe to include more new participants in Africa, Latin America and the South Pacific.
3. Coordination and cooperation in specific fields of the Belt and Road Initiative have progressed steadily. The Digital Silk Road has become an important part of the Belt and Road Initiative. China has launched the "Belt and Road Digital Economy International Cooperation Initiative" with Egypt, Laos, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Thailand, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. It has signed cooperation agreements with 16 countries to strengthen the construction of the Digital Silk Road. China issued the "Action Plan on Belt and Road Standard Connectivity (2018-2020)". It has signed 85 standardization cooperation agreements with 49 countries and regions. The long-term mechanism for tax cooperation between B&R countries is maturing. China co-organized the Belt and Road Initiative Tax Cooperation Conference (BRITCC) in May 2018, which published the "Astana Proposal by BRITCC Participating Jurisdictions for Enhancing Cooperation in Tax Matters", signaling that the cooperation network has expanded to 111 countries and regions. China and 49 B&R countries published the "Joint Statement on Pragmatic Cooperation in the Field of Intellectual Property Among Countries Along the Belt and Road" in August 2018. In July 2018 China hosted the Forum on the Belt and Road Legal Cooperation, which published the "Statement of the Co-Chairs of the Forum on the Belt and Road Legal Cooperation". In October 2018 China hosted the Belt and Road Energy Ministerial Conference and 18 countries jointly announced building the B&R energy partnership. In addition, China published the "Vision and Action on Jointly Promoting Agricultural Cooperation on the Belt and Road" in May 2017 and the "Vision for Maritime Cooperation Under the Belt and Road Initiative" in June the same year. China has been a strong proponent of the establishment of international commercial courts and a "one-stop" diversified resolution mechanism for international commercial disputes.
Infrastructure connectivity is high on the B&R agenda. While committed to respecting the sovereignty and security concerns of all relevant countries, B&R countries have made concerted efforts to build an all-round, multi-level, and composite infrastructure framework centered on railways, roads, shipping, aviation, pipelines, and integrated space information networks. This framework is taking shape rapidly. It has greatly reduced the transaction costs of products, capital, information, and technologies flowing between regions, and effectively promoted the orderly flow and optimal allocation of resources among different regions. Thus it will help achieve mutually beneficial cooperation and common development.
1. Significant progress has been made in the construction of international economic cooperation corridors and passageways. The six major corridors for international economic cooperation－the New Eurasian Land Bridge, and the China-Mongolia-Russia, China-Central Asia-West Asia, China-Indochina Peninsula, China-Pakistan, and Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar economic corridors－connect the Asian economic circle with the European economic circle. They have played an important role in establishing and strengthening connectivity partnerships between participating countries and building an efficient and smooth Eurasian market.
・ New Eurasian Land Bridge. Over the past five years or so, regional cooperation through the New Eurasian Land Bridge has widened, enhancing partnerships featuring openness, inclusiveness, and mutual benefits to a higher level and driving forward economic and trade exchanges between Asia and Europe. The "Budapest Guidelines for Cooperation Between China and Central and Eastern European Countries" and the "Sofia Guidelines for Cooperation Between China and Central and Eastern European Countries" have been published, showing that steady progress is being made in pragmatic cooperation in the frameworks of the China-EU Connectivity Platform and the Investment Plan for Europe. Construction has started on the Belgrade-Stara Pazova section of the Hungary-Serbia Railway in Serbia. The Western China-Western European International Expressway connecting western China, Kazakhstan, Russia and Western Europe is basically complete.
・ China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor. China, Mongolia, and Russia have made positive efforts to build a cross-border infrastructure connectivity network consisting mainly of railways, roads and border ports. In 2018, the three countries signed the "Memorandum of Understanding on Establishing a Joint Mechanism for Advancing the China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor", making further progress in improving the working mechanism of the tripartite cooperation. China's side of the Tongjiang-Nizhneleninskoye railway bridge was completed in October 2018. Construction of the Heihe-Blagoveshchensk road bridge is progressing smoothly. A Sino-Russian enterprise consortium has completed preliminary design of the Moscow-Kazan High-Speed Railway. The "Intergovernmental Agreement on International Road Transport Along the Asian Highway Network" signed and approved by the three countries has entered into force. The China-Mongolia-Russia cross-border terrestrial cable system has been completed.
・ China-Central Asia-West Asia Economic Corridor. Over the past five years or so, cooperation has advanced in energy, infrastructure connectivity, economy and trade, and industrial capacity in this corridor's framework. China has signed bilateral agreements on international road transport with Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkey, and other countries, as well as China-Pakistan-Kazakhstan-Kyrgyzstan, China-Kazakhstan-Russia, China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan, and some other multilateral agreements on international road transport, constantly improving infrastructure construction in Central Asia and West Asia. The China-Saudi Arabia Investment Cooperation Forum has promoted industrial complementarity between the Belt and Road Initiative and Saudi Vision 2030, and has concluded cooperation agreements worth more than US$28 billion. China and Iran have drawn on their strengths in various fields and are strengthening their combined forces in the fields of roads, infrastructure and energy.
・ China-Indochina Peninsula Economic Corridor. Over the past five years or so, progress has been made in infrastructure connectivity and construction of cross-border economic cooperation zones through this corridor. The Kunming-Bangkok Expressway has been completed, while the China-Laos and China-Thailand railways and some other projects are well underway. Cooperation has started in building the China-Laos Economic Corridor. More intensive efforts have been made to dovetail Thailand's Eastern Economic Corridor and the Belt and Road Initiative. Economic cooperation between China and Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Viet Nam and Thailand is advancing steadily. Positive roles for the China-ASEAN (10+1) cooperation mechanism, Lancang-Mekong cooperation mechanism, and Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Economic Cooperation are becoming clearer.
・ China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. A cooperation plan focusing on energy, transportation infrastructure, industrial park cooperation, and Gwadar Port has been implemented in the framework of this corridor. China and Pakistan have established the Joint Cooperation Committee of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which meets regularly. Smooth progress has been made in a number of projects. Key projects, such as the road to the Gwadar Port, Peshawar-Karachi Motorway (Sukkur-Multan section), Karakoram Highway Phase II (Havelian-Thakot section), Lahore Orange Line Metro, and 1,320MW Coal-Fired Power Plants at Port Qasim have been launched. Some projects have already brought benefits. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is open to third parties for cooperation, and more countries have joined or expressed a willingness to participate.
・ Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor. Over the past five years or so, the four countries have worked together to build this corridor in the framework of joint working groups, and have planned a number of major projects in institutional development, infrastructure connectivity, cooperation in trade and industrial parks, cooperation and opening up in the financial market, cultural exchange, and cooperation in enhancing people's wellbeing. A Joint Committee of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor has been established. The two countries have also signed an MoU on building the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor, as well as papers on a feasibility study for the Muse-Mandalay Railway, and the Framework Agreement on the Kyauk Phyu Special Economic Zone Deep-Sea Port Project.
2. Infrastructure connectivity has been remarkably enhanced. "Access to roads will enable all sectors of the economy to prosper." Insufficient infrastructure investment is a bottleneck for economic development in developing countries. Accelerating infrastructure connectivity is a key area and core goal of the Belt and Road Initiative.