High Commissioner Abbas,
High Commissioner Drew,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is a real pleasure for me to join you at UK Business Roundtable on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. I commend the UK government and British friends from all sectors for your interest in and support for the Belt and Road Initiative including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
The Belt and Road initiative was put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013. Over the past three years and more, cooperation under the Belt and Road framework has achieved steady progress and global influence. For countries along the Belt and Road routes this initiative provides great opportunities. For the world it is gaining wide recognition and consensus.
Some may ask – why? My answer is simple. This is because the Belt and Road initiative provides multiple mutual benefits for all the people of the world. This is because Belt and Road is open, inclusive, practical and aimed to achieve win-win results.
First of all, the Belt and Road initiative is open to all. Any country, along the ancient Maritime Routes and Silk Roads, or outside this region, is able to participate. So far, more than one hundred countries and international organizations have responded actively and expressed their support. More than 40 of them have signed cooperation agreements with China.
We would be happy to see more countries, international organizations, multinational companies, financial institutions and NGOs joining in for specific projects and sharing the benefits.
Second, being inclusive is a key element of the Belt and Road Initiative. That is also the spirit of the historic Silk Roads, and the Belt and Road Initiative is carrying on this spirit. Instead of seeking uniformity or sameness, the Belt and Road Initiative emphasises the harmony in diversity and embraces different ideas. This is very much an expression of the cultural thinking found in Asian civilisations.
Therefore, this initiative is by no means a replacement but rather a complement to existing regional cooperation mechanisms and arrangements. It aims to dovetail the development strategies of participants, including those along the Belt and Road, to achieve more dynamic development for all. That is how this highly inclusive initiative is reaching out to the whole world through its vigour and great vitality.
Third, the Belt and Road initiative is, at its heart, about concrete cooperation. A number of major projects under this initiative, including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, have broken ground. Working together with host countries along the routes, China has so far built more than 50 cooperation zones and created nearly 200,000 jobs locally.
A symbol of the immense potential of integrating infrastructure along the routes is through developing trans-national railway networks. The China Railway Express running across the Eurasian continent has made nearly 3,000 journeys. Back in January, a freight train of China Railway Express arrived in London for the first time. It brought from China a total of four million pounds worth of goods and commodities. On 10 April, next Monday, it will head back to China, fully loaded with goods from Britain.
Last, but not least, the Belt and Road initiative aims for win-win results. Its goal is common prosperity and regional integration by means of stronger connectivity of policy, transportation, trade, finance and people.
The development of the Belt and Road initiative came from China. But, and most importantly, the benefits generated will be shared by all stakeholders. In other words, it's not China's 'pie' to cut or take the 'lion's share'. Absolutely that is not China's wish. China wants to work with all our different partners to make this 'pie' bigger and shared by all for mutual benefit together.
Next month in Beijing, China is going to host the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. This forum is already drawing wide attention. Let me share with you the three highlights of this Forum.
First, it will be the highest-level international gathering on the Belt and Road cooperation. It will bring together over 1,000 high-ranking political and business representatives to discuss and make plans for future cooperation. Both Pakistan and Britain will be there.
Second, the Forum agenda focuses on "Cooperation for Common Prosperity". There will be in-depth discussion over infrastructure connectivity, business cooperation, industrial investment, resources and energy, financial support, cultural and people-to-people exchanges, ecological preservation, maritime cooperation, and other key topics.
Third, this forum is a significant endeavour. This is particularly vital at a time when global recovery is sluggish and protectionism is on the rise. This forum seeks to solve the most acute problems in the global and regional economy. It will be a remarkable effort to advance the process of economic globalisation that is more dynamic, inclusive and sustainable.
In this context, today's event cannot have taken place at a better time. The focus of this Roundable meeting has high significance in advancing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. It provides a spotlight on this key pilot project of the Belt and Road initiative.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is at the intersection of the Belt and the Road. It is known as the "opening theme" of the "Belt and Road symphony". It is an excellent example of how the Belt and Road principles have been put into reality. It is where decisions are made together, actions taken jointly and benefits shared among partners.
The success of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is best illustrated in three aspects.
First, the foundation is solid.
China and Pakistan are close neighbours. The friendship between the two countries runs deep in the heart of our two peoples. In Pakistan, people have described the China-Pakistan friendship as: "higher than mountains, deeper than the ocean and sweeter than honey."
This strong friendship and partnership dates back long before the Economic Corridor was proposed. From the Karakoram Highway to the Haier-Ruba Economic Zone, the success of a number of key cooperation projects has paved the way for the Economic Corridor.
In 2013, amid deepening economic globalization and regional cooperation, leaders of China and Pakistan officially unveiled the blueprint of the Economic Corridor.
During President Xi Jinping's visit to Pakistan in 2015, the two countries agreed on the 1+4 cooperation structure, that is, the Economic Corridor at the center and linked with four key areas: the Gwadar Port, energy, infrastructure and industrial cooperation.
Without any doubt, the building of the Economic Corridor is based on the sound bilateral relations. It goes along with the aspiration of the Chinese and Pakistani people for closer connectivity and common development.
Second, the early harvests have been gratifying.
China and Pakistan have through their cooperation given priority to the areas of energy and infrastructure. This is helping to create the all important driving force for the economic and social development in Pakistan.
So far, 39 projects have been identified as early-harvest targets. These add up to a value of 18 billion US dollars of investment. Now, 18 of these projects are underway and they have created more than 13,000 jobs locally.
Last November, the first China-Pakistan trade convoy, a fleet of container trucks, passed through the Corridor and reached the Gwadar Port. This marks the opening of this north-south trade route down Pakistan's western region. This first shipment of goods as part of the trade pilot project is the very early and tangible harvests.
Third, the prospects are very positive.
The next two years will witness the completion of a number of energy projects and the launch of a series of new projects in the areas of energy and infrastructure. In the Gwadar Port area, the free trade zone is under construction and the cooperation on building the industrial park is also moving forward.
Looking ahead, Pakistan's geographic position, demographic dividend and economic potential will continue to give the Economic Corridor a great advantage. This will enable the Corridor to play a bigger role in promoting regional connectivity and cooperation. That in turn will contribute to regional peace, stability and prosperity.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative. This project includes substantial cooperation and has huge untapped potential. As with all aspects of the initiative, this project is also open, inclusive and win-win.
Britain is welcome to take part in the process of building the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. As to how, I would like to share with you the following thoughts.
First, engage in closer communication.
Britain is China's important partner in the Belt and Road initiative with global influence. We are more than happy to see Britain playing an active and constructive role in building the Belt and Road, in particular the Economic Corridor.
China and Pakistan are ready to have the UK on board to explore specific projects. We also welcome ideas and proposals on cooperation from the British side.
Second, leverage British strengths.
Britain is a global centre of expertise in the services sector. It has much to offer through its mature service sector in international financing and legal affairs. British companies are well experienced in marketing, project operation, construction supervision and risks management. Britain also has historical ties and cooperation with Pakistan. I hope Britain will leverage its unique strengths for win-win cooperation in building the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Third, adopt a far-sighted vision.
The Economic Corridor is a long-term undertaking. Its aim is to create tangible economic and social benefits. I hope the British companies who are interested in the Economic Corridor will adopt a long-term vision in their investment decisions, in sharing opportunity and in shouldering the corporate social responsibility. I also hope the British participants will contribute to the Corridor in terms of security, public opinion and business environment. In short, I look forward to a strong British contribution to the sustainable development of the Economic Corridor.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
"The sea is vast because it admits hundreds of rivers". This Chinese saying underlines the importance of being open and inclusive.
Earlier this year, at the UN Headquarters in Geneva, President Xi Jinping said:
"China remains unchanged in its commitment to pursue common development."
And he added:
"We welcome other countries aboard the fast train of China's development".
The Belt and Road Initiative is a call for win-win cooperation and shared development.
I believe that the steady progress of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will introduce strong dynamic into the larger South Asian region.
It is also my hope and belief that the tripartite cooperation between China, Pakistan and Britain will open-up more opportunities and deliver more benefits for the Economic Corridor.
Such win-win cooperation will also in turn contribute significantly to the stability and prosperity of South Asia.
In conclusion, I wish today's roundtable a complete success!