Editor's note: Some Western countries criticize the Belt and Road Initiative as an example of neo-imperialism, neo-expansionism, neocolonialism and debt-imperialism. Zheng Yongnian, a professor of China studies at the National University of Singapore, commented in his column on Guancha.cn:
No matter how the initiative helps improve infrastructure and international cooperation in the future, the West is unlikely to change its critical attitude toward it or stop trying to counter it.
China should see both the criticism and countermeasures in a more positive light.
Since the competition among big powers is unavoidable, it is good that the Belt and Road Initiative has led the West's competition with China to the realm of the economy, rather than the military or ideology.
In today's globalized era, the economies of the major powers are interdependent, while their militaries and ideologies remain independent. Economic competition, if well managed, can bring about win-win results. But military and ideological contests will lead to confrontation, even war.
As long-term international public goods, the Belt and Road should always have the space for improvement. China can draw a lesson from the West's criticisms of the initiative, particularly those reflecting problems arising in the process of implementing the initiative, so as to constantly improve it.
China needs to evaluate the progress of the initiative over the past five years, and pay more attention to deepening the international community's understanding of the initiative and its commitment to promoting common development.
Also, China should highlight the initiative's role in promoting a shared future, and build it into a new open platform for international economic development.
On the one hand, the Chinese enterprises going out through the initiative should always put business first and abide by the laws in the countries where they are operating.
On the other hand, the Chinese government should be more considerate in taking into account the initiative's influence on geopolitics, and make the utmost efforts to avoid misunderstandings about the initiative.
And the initiative projects, be they industrial, economic or cultural, must all be conducive to improving the livelihoods of local peoples and protecting the local ecology and environment.
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