The second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation to be held Beijing is expected to provide a platform for think tanks to exchange ideas on the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) for multinational development, a senior Egyptian researcher has said.
"There is consensus that launching the BRI in 2013 is a game changer in the international scene, as more than a hundred countries joined this future-oriented project," said Hisham el-Zimaity, secretary general of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs (ECFA), in a recent interview with Xinhua.
In light of growing protectionism and unilateralism, the initiative is facing challenges, including unreal reports by some Western media. Thus closer cooperation among researchers of the BRI countries are required to address the challenges and exchange relevant research and visions, said Zimaity, also Egypt's former ambassador to Japan, Hungary, Slovenia and Pakistan.
The BRI refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, and seeks to revive ancient land and sea trade routes to connect China and participating states via win-win trade exchanges, joint investments and infrastructure projects for multilateral development.
It has been gaining growing popularity ever since, and so far has attracted 124 countries and 29 international organizations to sign BRI cooperation agreements with China.
"Developing countries, especially those in Africa and the Middle East, are all supportive of the win-win approach of the gigantic BRI project," he said.
Zimaity said that BRI-based cooperation between China and Egypt is reflected in the progress of Egypt's development process through massive infrastructure projects in various fields, including construction, energy, trade, industry and others.
"Egypt was among the first states to join the BRI and was also the first African state to sign cooperation agreements with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. So, there's massive cooperation between Egypt and China in this regard," he said.
The second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation is scheduled to open in Beijing in late April. Representatives from over 100 countries, including about 40 government leaders, have confirmed their attendance.
Representatives and heads of think tanks and research centers are also expected to show up at the international forum, including from Zimaity's ECFA, which was founded 20 years ago and currently is one of the most prominent think tanks in Africa and the Middle East.
ECFA's studies and recommendations are constantly passed on to the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be considered by decision makers, said Zimaity, noting that the institution is in constant communication with all state ministries.
ECFA has relations with several think tanks in China, including those in Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing and other cities, and representatives exchange visits and engage in discussions about each BRI development stage, he said, adding that he hoped this year's Belt and Road forum could establish a mechanism that gathers researchers in BRI states to share their studies, views and visions.
"All the recommendations raised by ECFA urge Egypt to further engage in the BRI and utmost cooperation with China in the light of the initiative," he added.