Sino-Belgian cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has brought real benefits to Belgian communities and businesses, Chinese Ambassador to Belgium Cao Zhongming has said.
“Belgium is an important partner of the Belt and Road Initiative,” Cao said Wednesday in a speech in front of an audience of young students and academics at the HEC Business School of the University of Liege.
Take the infrastructure interconnection. The Ambassador said land, sea and air connectivity between China and Belgium is progressing across the board.
China-Europe direct rail freight service has linked the northeastern Chinese city of Daqing to the Belgian port of Zeebrugge. China has become the third largest customer of the port of Antwerp.
Direct flights shuttle between Chinese cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hong Kong and Brussels. Charter flights and cargo flights provide the link between Liege and several Chinese cities, the Ambassador said.
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba plans to set up a European logistics centre in Liege, which is set to contribute to economic development and create jobs in Liege, according to Cao.
The BRI, proposed by China in 2013, aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe, Africa and beyond.
Over 150 countries and international organisations have signed cooperation agreements with China. Trade in goods between China and BRI partners has reached six trillion U.S. dollars in total over the years, he said.
Cao said China is committed to building “a world of shared prosperity”. “In today’s world, the problem of insufficient and unbalanced development is becoming increasingly acute and is causing tension and conflicts,” he said.
“The Belt and Road Initiative was proposed by China, but the opportunities and fruits it carries belong to the whole world,” Cao said.
China will host the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation next month in Beijing.
Thanks to participation and efforts of all, cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative looks to bring even more fruits to the benefits of people in many countries, Cao said.
“To focus on national development, China needs not only a harmonious and stable domestic environment, but also a peaceful external environment,” he said.
Although China is the world’s second-largest economy, it ranks only 71st globally in terms of GDP per capita, with over 16.6 million Chinese rural dwellers still living below the poverty line at the end of 2018.
HEC Business School of the University of Liege is one of the leading business schools in Belgium and Europe.
Recently, the University of Liege has set up exchange mechanisms with many universities in China, including through the Confucius Institute in Liege.