NATION

China Initiative ‘Brings Job Opportunities

For countries like Fiji, which often find it hard to finance big ticket in­frastructure projects, there’s an op­portunity to sign up to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to secure
25 Sep 2018 11:00
China Initiative ‘Brings Job Opportunities
Xu Qinduo, a political analyst and senior fellow at the Pangoal Institution

For countries like Fiji, which often find it hard to finance big ticket in­frastructure projects, there’s an op­portunity to sign up to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to secure financial assistance – cheap loans or economic aid from Beijing.

A China-based political analyst says these projects usually create jobs and bring long-term economic and social ben­efits for Fiji and other countries.

The BRI is an economic and trade plan primarily about infrastructure – roads, ports, airports, water facilities, power plants, etc.

Later on, it evolves into connectivity in other areas including people-to-people ex­changes, medical co-operation and so on.

These were comments made by Xu Qin­duo, a senior fellow at the Pangoal Insti­tution – a China-based public policy think tank.

During an interview with the Fiji Sun, Mr Xu said the initiative offered oppor­tunities for investment from China or ex­ports to China, a win-win process for both countries and peoples.

He said people-to-people exchanges for educational and work purposes would go a long way towards building a better world.

Mr Xu said the idea behind the initiative was to further develop China’s economy by investing overseas.

By connecting China with other coun­tries through the BRI, Beijing was help­ing to create a bigger market and, in this sense, ultimately everybody won.

Mr Xu said naturally this led to the idea to connect China to central Asia and Eu­rope and revive the old Silk Road, an an­cient trade route dating back to as early as 207 BCE that linked the East and West running from South East Asia through China, India, East Africa, the Middle East, Arabian Peninsula and on to Europe.

China’s President Xi Jinping first put forward the idea of the Silk Road Econom­ic Belt in a speech in Kazakhstan in 2013.

The idea was later expanded into the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road when Mr Xi visited Indonesia.

Infrastructure development:

Part of the BRI expounds on the need for better infrastructure and better connec­tivity.

An Asian Development Bank report in 2017, Meeting Asia’s Infrastructure Needs, estimated that the region would need to invest $26 trillion in infrastructure until 2030 to keep pace of economic growth.

Mr Xi said China understood the impor­tance of infrastructure in its own experi­ence and had the financial firepower to do so with a foreign reserve of more than $3 trillion USD.

Global power projection claim:

Mr Xi maintained the BRI was purely about economics and trade.

But inevitably, he said, countries who viewed China as a rival or competitor saw the BRI through the lens of geopolitics.

“China doesn’t have any intention to compete with the US, to replace the US as the number one power in the world,” he said.

“That’s why the BRI is open, transpar­ent, inclusive. Every country is welcome to join instead of being an exclusive club.”

Mr Xi said there was no grand plan to conquer or control other parts of the world.

“For China, it takes it seriously that there’s international responsibility for a big power like China to shoulder,” he said.

“In this sense, BRI is more like a public good China contributes to the develop­ment of countries.

“That’s also why China talks so much about aligning the BRI with countries’ own national strategy, the UN Agenda 2030. It’s all about economic development, about poverty alleviation and improve­ment of people’s livelihoods.”

Edited by Epineri Vula

Feedback: lusiana.tuimaisala@fijisun.com.fj

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