The Chinese approach to a better future for humankind is based on the Chinese historical and cultural values with two fundamental ideas: Community sharing and mutual connectivity, Professor Wang Yiwei from China said in his keynote speech on “Belt & Road Initiative: Challenges and Way Forward” delivered recently at the Auditorium of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce in Colombo (CCC).
This Event was organised jointly by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and the Pathfinder Foundation. Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya, the Chairman of the CCC and internationally respected expert on digital economy presided.
Professor Wang serves at the Renmin University of China and holds the Jean Monnet Chair. He is also the Director of the Institute of International Affairs as well as the Director of the Center for European Studies at the University.
He said in his speech that the BRI is aimed at high-quality development of nations from the Far East to Europe across Asia and Africa with open, green, clean and, people centred elements.
According to the World Bank Report on Belt & Road Economics, the BRI transport projects could help lift 7.6 million people from extreme poverty with current earning less than US$1.90 a day, and 32 million people from moderate poverty with at present earning less than US$3.20 a day.
It will also reduce shipping time for both BRI countries and non-BRI countries, resulting in lower trade costs and trade expansion in the region.
The Sri Lankan perspective on the BRI was presented by Admiral Professor Jayanath Colombage, Additional Secretary to the President on Foreign Relations.
More than half of the world’s container ships, one-third of bulk cargo traffic and two-thirds of global oil shipments use the Indian Ocean, and much of which transits shipping lanes near Sri Lanka on the way through the Strait of Malacca to the South China Sea, he said.
“It shows the potential of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean, connecting to the BRI,” he stressed.
The expectations of the business community of Sri Lanka from the BRI was presented by Shiran.
Fernando, Chief Economist of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. While Hambantota port and the industrial zone as well as Colombo Port City are important projects that will have a major impact on the economy, according to the business community perspectives, Colombo port expansion, oil refinery projects and, the industrial and export processing zones are the future projects of business importance.
Prof. Wang was later interviewed by Mr. Milinda Moragoda, Founder of the Pathfinder Foundation for the talk show, Black & White, aired by Sirasa.
Subsequent discussions of the Pathfinder Foundation with Professor Wang focused on the next level of development projects in Sri Lanka under the Belt & Road Initiative. The areas earmarked included cooperation in maritime research, Chinese assistance to Sri Lanka’s technological and technical education, the need for attraction of high-end Chinese tourists and the production of films and TV programmes for China Global Television Network (CGTN).