Belt and Road Initiative has positive impact, says British historian

China's Belt and Road Initiative can produce a positive impact, said Peter Frankopan, professor of global history at Oxford University.

Frankopan, who wrote a bestseller -- The Silk Roads: A New History of the World, has been a keen observer of the initiative put forward by China in 2013.

"Five years on, the initiative is still quite new. A very large amount of money has been committed into projects right across Asia and also Africa since 2013. The initiative has no geographical limits and I think there are many cases where these investments are sensible, logical and work very well," Frankopan told Xinhua in a recent interview.

He noted investing in infrastructure is expensive, needs a long-term perspective, and requires a view that it is worthwhile doing. "What the Belt and Road Initiative can do in a positive way is to invest in very large infrastructure projects like energy plants, roads or train lines or ports that can have a very positive impact."

In many of the countries where such investments are going, there is a real opportunity for the proper improvement in GDP, in the quality of the lives not just of the citizens but also the poor, noted the historian.

"People talk about the Belt and Road Initiative like it's one whole giant plan but there are a lot of different projects and some will have better outcome than other ones," Frankopan said.

"One of the greatest stories in China for over the last 30 years has been the change in the livelihood of people coming out of the poverty line. If China can use its lessons learned from itself and apply them in other states, this can be very positive," he added.

When commenting on the new developments of the silk roads, the historian said the digital silk road will be worth attention as digital technologies are making a huge change to people's lives around the world -- in terms of the speed of our internet connections, the way of information exchange, the way we shop, and the way we research.

"Digital technology is moving very quickly; The AI, robotics are starting to play roles in our lives and that will continue in the next years," Frankopan said.

He listed benefits arising from digital technologies, like opportunities that they bring to people, the 4G/5G communication in remote areas of China, the shepherd or someone working in the farm industry to be able to gather information by mobility and the way to build platforms so people can share things safely.

Editor: 曹家宁