The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), first proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, has evolved into a transcontinental trade and infrastructure network, covering the Eurasian continent, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the South Pacific region.
How much do you know about the BRI and The Belt and Road Forum (BRF) for International Cooperation?
What is the ‘Belt’ & ‘Road’?
Made up of an overland “belt” (the Silk Road Economic Belt) spanning Central and Southern Asia and Europe, and a maritime “road” (the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road) of shipping lanes reaching all the way to Africa and the Mediterranean, the BRI aims to boost economic prosperity through international cooperation on a scale never seen before.
Its reach extends to some 4.4 billion people, around 65 percent of the world’s population.
From ‘Silk Road’ to ‘Belt & Road’
Modern and groundbreaking in its global outlook, the Belt and Road is actually deeply rooted in history, with the ancient “Silk Road” dating back more than 2,500 years, when camel trains transported everything from spices to silk between East and West.
Today those camels have been replaced by thousands of planes, trains and ships, with trade volume between China and its Belt and Road partners hitting six trillion U.S. dollars over the past five years.
Trains can now travel 12,000 kilometres from Yiwu to London faster than ships, while the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is literally lighting up the region, with green energy projects putting an end to decades of blackouts.
By April 15, 2019, 126 nations and 29 international organisations had signed Belt and Road cooperation documents with China.
What is Belt & Road Forum?
The BRF provides forums and meetings for thousands of delegates from all around the world to discuss progress and moving forward.
In 2017, the first-ever BRF was held in Beijing. Twenty-nine national leaders and more than 1,600 participants attended that event.
More than 270 concrete results were achieved in five key areas, namely policy, infrastructure, trade, finance and people-to-people connectivity.
The second forum will take place in Beijing again, on April 25-27. This time, there will be more participants than the first edition, with 37 national leaders and some 5,000 delegates from over 150 countries and 90 international organisations expected to attend.
This year’s forum follows the theme “Belt and Road cooperation shaping a brighter shared future,” and will see a conference organised especially for the BRI business community.
The 2019 forum will be a chance to take stock of the initiative five years on and lay out a new road map for the coming years.