Basic Knowledge on the Belt and Road

Updated: April 25, 2019 Source: Belt and Road Portal
fontLarger fontSmaller
On September 7, 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the Silk Road Economic Belt in his speech titled "Promote People-to-people Friendship and Create a Better Future" at Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan.

On October 3, 2013, Xi Jinping proposed building the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road in his speech titled "Jointly Build a China-ASEAN Community of Common Destiny" at the Indonesian Parliament.

The Belt and Road (B&R) is the combined abbreviation of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road.

The B&R is not a simple upgrade from the ancient Silk Road. Instead, it borrows the historical symbol embodied in the ancient Silk Road and incorporates new connotation of the times. Neither is the B&R about the geographical concept of "Belt" and "Road". Instead, it is an international cooperation platform and public product provided by China to the world and an open and inclusive economic cooperation initiative.

Extensive consultation, joint efforts and shared benefits are the fundamental principles guiding the B&R.

The spirit of the Silk Road of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit is the core of the B&R.

The five directions of the B&R

The Silk Road Economic Belt has three routes: the first is from northwest China, northeast China, through Central Asia, Russia, to Europe and the Baltic Sea; the second is from northwest China, through Central Asia, Western Asia, to the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea; the third is from southwest China, through Indo-China Peninsula, to the Indian Ocean.

The 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road has two routes: the first crossing the South China Sea through the coastal ports, then through the Strait of Malacca to the Indian Ocean, and extending to Europe; the second crossing the South China Sea through the coastal ports, and extending in the South Pacific Ocean.

The 64 countries along the five routes are "the countries along the B&R" which are often listed in the current statistics, but they are not all the countries participating in the B&R. The B&R is not intended as an exclusive circle but an open and inclusive cooperation platform whose threshold is not high.

In accordance with the above five directions, and the cooperation priorities and spatial layout of the B&R, China has put forward the main framework of "six economic corridors, six connectivity networks, and multiple countries and ports in different parts of the world", which provides clear guidance for countries participating in the B&R cooperation.

"Six economic corridors"-the six international economic cooperation corridors: the New Eurasian Land Bridge, the China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor, the China-Central and Western Asia Economic Corridor, the China-Indochina Peninsula Economic Corridor, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor.

"Six connectivity networks"-highways, railways, shipping, aviation, pipelines and integrated space information networks are the main contents of infrastructure connectivity.

"Multiple countries"-the early partner countries, which strive to set examples for other countries and demonstrate the achievements of the cooperation.

"Ports in different parts of the world"-jointly build a batch of key ports and node cities to boost maritime cooperation.

The major content of the B&R lies in "Five Cooperation Priorities", namely, policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bond.

Strengthening policy coordination is a firm guarantee for the B&R. As of April 20, 2019, China has inked 174 cooperative documents with 126 countries and 29 international organizations including developing countries, developed countries, and many enterprises and financial institutions in developed countries as well as the third markets developed with China's cooperation.

Facilities connectivity is a prioritized area in the B&R. The implementation of projects of China-Laos Railway, China-Thailand Railway, Jakarta-Bandung High-speed Railway and Hungary-Serbia Railway has been solidly promoted, and construction of Gwadar Port, Hambantota Port, Piraeus Port and Khalifa Port has smoothly progressed. By March 2019, the China Railway Express has connected 50 cities of 15 European countries, with the freight train making over 14,000 trips back and forth.

Investment and trade cooperation is the key content of the B&R. From 2013 to 2018, the total trade volume of goods between China and the countries along the B&R has exceeded US$6 trillion, with construction of China-Belarus Industrial Park, China-United Arab Emirates (UAE) Industrial Capacity Demonstration Zone, and China-Egypt Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone being steadily advanced.

Financial integration is a crucial fulcrum for the B&R. China has successively established bilateral currency swap arrangements with more than 20 countries along the route, and set up RMB clearing arrangements with 7 countries. China has also jointly constructed a capacity-building centre with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). By the end of 2018, China's export credit insurance companies had accumulated more than $600 billion in insurance coverage in countries along the route.

People-to-people bond is the social foundation of the B&R. China has built more than 60 million two-way tourism exchanges with the countries along the route and has achieved visa-free or landing visas in 52 relevant countries (as of October 2018). We have made a series of achievements in the areas of science and technology exchanges, educational cooperation, cultural tourism, green development and foreign aid etc.

The B&R is a grand and systematic project covering a wide range of areas and a long span of time with heavy workloads. It is necessary to strengthen organization and leadership, and coordinate the internal and external works. To this end, the Chinese government has set up a Leading Group for Promoting the Belt and Road Initiative to guide and coordinate the construction. Member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Vice Premier of the State Council Han Zheng served as the team leader.

Located in the National Development and Reform Commission, the Office of the Leading Group for Promoting the Belt and Road Initiative undertakes the daily work of the steering group. He Lifeng, the head of the National Development and Reform Commission, serves as the director of the Office of the steering group. Deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission Ning Jizhe, vice minister of the Ministry of Commerce Qian Keming, and assistant minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Zhang Jun served as deputy director of the steering group.

In September 2015, the National Development and Reform Commission along with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Commerce and other departments standardized the English translation of the B&R.

1. In the official documents to the outside world, the English translation of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road is unified as the Belt and Road, the English abbreviation of which is "B&R".

2. The word "initiative" is so translated in the singular form and we will not use words such as strategy, project, program, agenda, etc.

3. Considering that the term of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) appears frequently, we will use the full English translation only for the first time on some informal occasions. The abbreviation of the translation can be employed flexibly according to various circumstances. Besides the expression of the BRI, that of "the land and maritime Silk Road initiative" can also be used in some certain situations, while other translations are not recommended.

Editor: 曹家宁