Editor’s note: Bereket Sisay is a special commentator on current affairs for CGTN, with a special focus on Africa. The article reflects the author’s opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.
Due to various factors, many countries are lagging behind in achieving sustainable development and failing to improve the lives of their citizens. More importantly, the huge infrastructural gaps that these countries have been experiencing can be counted as the major factor for this fallout. According to the World Bank’s latest report, 675 million people worldwide are without electricity, 2.3 billion lack potable water, 3.6 billion lack safe sanitation, 1 billion live more than 2 kilometers from a year-round road, and 450 million live beyond the range of a broadband signal.
Furthermore, addressing these challenges will require approximately $1.5 trillion per year by 2030 – 4.5 percent of the GDP of low and middle-income countries. As a result of this infrastructural deficit, a significant number of people have been trapped in multidimensional poverty, exposing them to multiple socio-economic problems that are dragging a world one step further from a better future, and this is evident as the compounding challenges have slowed progress towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which are halfway to 2030.
Nevertheless, some parts of the world have made progress in reducing poverty levels through massive investment in infrastructure and the provision of basic social services. In this regard, China stands out as a major developing country that has succeeded in eradicating poverty at home and has made a significant contribution to global efforts to eradicate poverty through its much-touted Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a massive infrastructure project under the guiding principle of building a global community of shared future.
In an effort to review what has been achieved through the BRI, as the initiative celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, the State Council Information Office of China released a white paper entitled “The Belt and Road Initiative: A Key Pillar of the Global Community of Shared Future” on Tuesday. The white paper has boldly expressed that the BRI has brought real benefits to participating countries, while providing evidence-based arguments through numerical and factual cases of projects implemented in different countries.
The State Council Information Office of China releases the white paper “The Belt and Road Initiative: A Key Pillar of the Global Community of Shared Future” in Beijing, capital of China, October 10, 2023. /CFP
It is true that since its launch by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, the BRI has greatly enhanced trade and investment exchanges, stimulated economic growth, and promoted economic integration between and among countries, while creating opportunities and benefits for the entire world.
The white paper is based on some important key principles. These include that although the BRI was proposed by China, it belongs to the whole world. That’s why China has so far signed more than 200 BRI cooperation agreements with 151 countries and 32 international organizations under this colossal infrastructure project.
Secondly, the BRI paves the way for shared development and prosperity, and accordingly, data shows that from 2013 to 2021, the cumulative value of goods traded between China and countries along the BRI routes reached nearly $11 trillion, while two-way investment reached more than $230 billion. In addition, a World Bank report in 2019 showed that transportation infrastructure projects under the BRI, if fully implemented, would generate annual benefits of $1.6 trillion in global income by 2030, accounting for 1.3 percent of global GDP.
The newly released white paper also emphasized that the BRI promotes all-round connectivity in various areas. “The BRI continues to facilitate policy coordination, infrastructure connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and closer people-to-people ties by focusing on ‘hard connectivity’ in infrastructure, promoting ‘soft connectivity’ through harmonized rules and standards, and strengthening people-to-people ties.” This sums up China’s successful engagement in aligning the BRI with UN organs, regional financial institutions, and infrastructure connectivity through roads and railways, as well as its involvement in capacity building, cultural and tourism exchanges.
It also mentions China’s contribution to building a peaceful world, and this can be highlighted as its recent mediated deal in the Middle East between Saudi Arabia and Iran, as well as its peaceful proposal in the Ukraine crisis.
The white paper further expressed that China is willing to increase its resource contribution to global cooperation and do its best to support and help other developing countries to make faster progress. China also sincerely welcomes more countries and international organizations to join the BRI cooperation, and will support any initiative that can genuinely help developing countries build infrastructure and achieve common progress, thereby promoting global connectivity and sustainable development. This sternly reinforces China’s stance of opening-up and broader global engagement, hoping to create a shred of growth for all mankind.
This in itself creates a new momentum to further expand and broaden the horizon of cooperation between and among countries in the hope of achieving high-quality growth. As the world is confronted with a multitude of interrelated challenges, countries should work together to overcome these challenges, and drift towards peace and prosperity. As our destinies are interwoven, as the saying goes, either we sink together or we swim together.