How to implement the Belt & Road Initiative in the Pacific Islands Region, especially Tonga. The Chinese proverb goes: “If you want to get rich, build a road.” This can be updated as: “If you seek prosperity, build connectivity.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the Belt & Road Initiative (also known as One Belt, One Road or OBOR) in 2013.

The aim of the Belt & Road Initiative is to promote peaceful cooperation and common development around the world and to strengthen China’s connectivity with the world. It combines new and old projects, covers an expansive geographic scope, and includes efforts to strengthen hard infrastructure, soft infrastructure and cultural ties.

Cooperation under the Belt & Road (B&R) framework is something in which all countries, big or small, rich or poor, can participate on an equal footing.

This cooperation is public, transparent, and open, and brings positive energy to world peace and development. It carries forward the spirit of the Silk Road, and pursues mutual benefit and complementary gains. Under this framework, the countries concerned adhere to the principle of achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration, and join hands to build a new system of global economic governance.

Cooperation helps to promote efficiency in the flow of elements and in-depth integration of markets, to achieve diversified, independent, balanced and sustainable development. It aims to promote regional development, prosperity and stability, and expand dialogue and mutual learning between civilisations.

The five routes for the Belt & Road Initiative and the framework China has proposed including six corridors, six means of communication, multiple countries, and multiple ports. I shall also attempt to discuss how to implement Belt & Road Initiative in the Pacific Islands Region with a focus on Tonga since it signed the Belt & Road Initiative Memorandum of Understanding on 12 November 2018; the proposed forward looking conceptual goal for the Pacific Islands Region; and conclude with part of the result of the analysis and findings conducted by the World Bank 2019 Belt & Road Economic Opportunities.

Author:  Col. (Ret’d.) Siamelie Latu, is Secretary General of the Tonga China Friendship Association, a former Tongan Ambassador to China, and Former Acting Secretary Foreign Affairs.