|Ambassador JI Yanchi's Speech at the EPRC Roundtable Discussion|
Dear Mrs. Evgenidze,
Dear experts and colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I would like to thank the Economic Policy Research Centre for organizing the roundtable meeting on cooperation between China and Georgia under the Belt and Road initiative. I hope that this meeting will encourage the Georgian academic circles to research the Belt and Road strategy, enhance their knowledge and understanding of this strategy and put forward practical recommendations for Georgia to participate in the process of building the Belt and Road. I wish this meeting to be a great success.
The Belt and Road is short for the two initiatives put forward by the President of China, Xi Jinping during his visit to Central and Southeast Asia in September and October, 2013. Namely, one is called “Silk Road Economic Belt”, and the other – “The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road”. Both have attracted a close attention from the international community.
The Belt and Road Initiative should be jointly built through consultation to meet the interests of all. The initiative follows the four principles of open cooperation, harmony and inclusiveness, market orientation and mutual benefit. Its five major goals are: policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bonds. By enhancing the cooperation in various fields between Europe and Asia, it promotes mutual development and in the end, aims to build a community of shared interests, responsibility and destiny featuring mutual political trust, economic integration and cultural inclusiveness.
China will join other countries along the Belt and Road to substantiate and improve the content and mode of the Belt and Road cooperation, work out relevant timetables and roadmaps, sign framework agreements and memorandums of understanding on cooperation, carry out joint research, forums and fairs, personnel training, exchanges and visits under the framework of existing bilateral, multilateral, regional and sub-regional cooperation mechanisms, so that they will gain a better understanding and recognition of the contents, objectives and tasks of the Belt and Road Initiative, jointly identify programs that accommodate bilateral and multilateral interests, and accelerate the launching of programs that are agreed upon by parties and ready for implementation. I think that the main purpose of today’s exchange meeting is to deepen understanding and recognition towards the Belt and Road. I have discovered that there are two major misunderstandings towards the subject:
First, the wording of the initiative as “One Belt, One Road”. As you may have noticed, I have used the “Belt and Road” wording all along, because it is not a specific belt or road, nor does it aim to build a specific transportation line or port, but rather a network connecting Europe and Asia through various policy platforms, transportation routes, trade roads, financial channels and spiritual bridges. It sets up all-dimensional, multi-tiered and composite connectivity networks, explores market potential in the region, promotes investment and consumption, creates demands and job opportunities, enhances people-to-people and cultural exchanges, in order to realize diversified, independent, balanced and sustainable development along the Belt and Road countries. Simply put, it drives common development and common prosperity along the Belt and Road and forms a new, colossal economic area.
Second, the Belt and Road is considered to be China’s own business. China is the initiator, but while building the Belt and Road, it does not promote closed, fixed or exclusive mechanisms, does not interfere into the internal affairs of the countries along the routes nor does it seek dominance or expansion of the sphere of influence in the region. The Belt and Road is open and inclusive, it welcomes all countries and regional and international organizations to actively engage. It neither substitutes nor competes with the initiatives put forward by Georgia, Kazakhstan, the EU, the US, Russia and other countries, but rather embraces and promotes them all. China actively promotes development of the Belt and Road together with the concerned countries and alignment of regional cooperation plans. China is willing to seize the opportunity provided by the Initiative, promote opening-up, communication and integration among countries in a larger scope, with higher standards and at deeper levels, while giving consideration to the interests and aspirations of all parties. Of course, China is willing to assume more responsibilities and obligations in this process within its capacity, sincerely assists the concerned countries to speed up their developments.
During the 3 years since its initiation, the Belt and Road has gained active support and participation of more than 100 countries, including Georgia. China-Georgia cooperation on jointly building the Belt and Road has ushered in a good start. The two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding on strengthening cooperation for the Silk Road Economic Belt initiative, a direct freight railway was opened, Tbilisi Silk Road Forum was jointly organized, and Georgia became the prospective founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. At the end of last year, China and Georgia successfully concluded substantial negotiations on the FTA, and reached a high-level agreement with comprehensive content and balanced interests. I would like to emphasize that the Belt and Road initiative largely coincides with Georgia’s development strategy to become the transit hub linking Europe and Asia, especially in the connectivity part of China’s Initiative. At the same time, Georgia’s geographical advantage is obvious, investment environment is also favorable, China highly values Georgia’s role in building the Belt and Road. In the future, China and Georgia should make full use of bilateral mechanisms, such as the trade-economic joint commission, political consultations under the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, in order to explore and promote implementation and action plans for building the Belt and Road, deepen understanding and reach consensus to coordinate the implementation of cooperation projects. I believe that in the process of gradual construction of the Belt and Road, Georgia’s potential will be better explored, and its benefits will also increase.
President Xi Jinping will deliver an important speech during the 2017 world economic forum held in Switzerland on Jan 17th. I sincerely hope that dear friends in beautiful Georgia, Switzerland of Caucasus, could pay close attention to the voice of China from Davos, Switzerland.
Thank you for your attention!