Former Australian Foreign Minister and former Premier of New South Wales state Bob Carr has described the Belt and Road Initiative as China’s conversation with the world and an opportunity to bring modernisation to developing nations.
Carr was the longest serving state premier of New South Wales and is currently director of the Australia China Relations Institute at the University of Technology Sydney, giving him a uniquely broad perspective on regional affairs.
In an interview, Carr said that if done with transparency, the Belt and Road Initiative stands to be a multilateral success, citing the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as a benchmark for Belt and Road Initiative governance arrangements.
“With the Belt and Road Initiative, China is saying, ‘let our conversation be about mutual economic development,” he said.
“That doesn’t resolve all the hard questions, but let’s say the concept is potentially very, very good.”
This month the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation will be held in Beijing, with world leaders gathering to discuss the future of the project.
Carr said the Belt and Road Initiative stands to benefit particularly developing nations by sharing China’s resources and experience in implementing large scale infrastructure.
“Potentially it exports China’s modernisation to other countries,” he said.
“It’s China saying ‘we’ve got surplus capital, we’ve got surplus expertise, we think it’s an advantage if we invest with you.”
However, encouraging other nations and private entities to invest requires guarantees of transparency and return on investments, Carr said.
“The world… wants to see a range of projects, airports, rail, road in which the private sector is able to invest and get a return,” he said.
“Belt and Road has got to be less of a grand concept, and more like a string of specific proposals. It needs what investors call a deal flow,” said Carr.