Editor’s Note: This is the twenty first installment of Belt and Road Portal's special series on the Belt and Road Big Data Report 2017.
Nearly 90 percent of surveyed media and netizens in China are positive with the prospects of the Belt and Road Initiative, and are concerned about more topics related to the Belt and Road construction, especially the construction of free trade zones, according to the Belt and Road Big Data Report 2017 published by the State Information Center.
The implementation of relevant projects, the bettering of its top-level design and the improvement of its plans in various fields, as well as the active role played by provinces and cities has won the recognition of the international community and has become a global accord, the surveyed media and netizens consider.
Over the past four years, more than 100 countries and international organizations have shown their support for or participated in the Belt and Road construction. The United Nations Assembly and the UN Security Council have incorporated both the content and the spirit of the initiative into important resolutions.
The initiative has gradually evolved from a vision into reality. By the end of September, China has signed cooperation agreements with 74 countries and international organizations.
A survey in the report indicates that the topics that the media and netizens are most concerned include FTZ construction and their synergy with the Belt and Road Initiative, FTA negotiation with countries along the Belt and Road routes, infrastructure construction, economic, trade and cultural interactions, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Silk Road Fund, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor.
The central government has approved the establishment of 11 pilot free trade zones, which are earmarked to blaze the trial for China’s reform and opening-up nationwide and to directly stimulate the people’s interests in the topics related to free trade.
Last year, the media and netizens paid increasing attention to capacity cooperation, globalization, global governance and strategy alignment.
The countries that draw most attention from the Chinese media and netizens are Russia, India, Kazakhstan, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, Australia and the Republic of Korea, some of which, under the framework, are perceived as China’s partners, and some as competitors.
The report also shows that the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, Fujian, Chongqing, Shaanxi, Gansu and Guangdong draw the most attention from domestic media and netizens in reports and discussions related to the initiative.
Public opinion thinks Xinjiang should make thorough use of its strategic position as a window to the West to strengthen cooperation in trade, energy, transportation and culture with the other countries and regions along the Belt and Road routes.
Also, the report’s survey finds greater attention has been given to the initiative’s connection with Shaanxi, Sichuan and Henan from 2015 to 2016.