Q: The UK-headquartered Financial Times published an article the other day about the proliferating difficulties China's Belt and Road Initiative is facing worldwide because of a lack of transparency in financing and a disregard for local conditions. What is your response?
A: What you just cited has no truth in it, and China totally disagrees with it.
The Belt and Road Initiative follows the golden rule of shared benefits through consultation and contribution and has borne fruits in the shape of various cooperation projects, delivering US$2.2 billion tax revenue and more than 200,000 jobs for cooperation partners. These projects have been accepted and sincerely welcomed by the relevant governments and peoples. The Port of Piraeus, under the joint operation of Chinese and Greek enterprises, has seen its container throughput traffic grow by six times and its global ranking surge from 93rd to 36th, making it the fastest growing container port globally. In Kenya, a journey from its biggest port city Mombasa to its capital Nairobi used to take over ten hours. Yet since the opening of the Mombasa-Nairobi railway line, the trip has been cut to five hours. The railway has brought convenience to the lives of the Kenyan people and added impetus to the local economic development. Tajikistan is a large cotton producer. Despite that, the country could only process 10 percent of its output. Yet thanks to a textile joint venture it set up with China, which is the largest enterprise of its kind in central Asia, Tajikistan's cotton processing rate rose to 40 percent. The joint venture sells over nine tenths of the 100 percent cotton yarn it produces to foreign markets and becomes the country's biggest source of foreign currency earnings. The list of such examples could go on and on.
Last Saturday, Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng talked about Uzbekistan's story with the Belt and Road Initiative in his speech at the 7th World Peace Forum in Tsinghua University. One third of Uzbekistan's population live in the Andijan region. Travel to Tashkent, its capital, had long been a headache for the government and local people as one had to either drive four or five days across mountain passes or transit through a third country by train. This longstanding problem was resolved when Chinese construction workers came and helped build a railway tunnel in just 900 days despite the hostile natural conditions. It is the first and so far the longest rail tunnel in central Asia. Now people in Andijan can get to Tashkent in just two hours. They hailed the Belt and Road Initiative and applauded the Chinese workers for making the journey so much easier for them.
While advancing the Belt and Road Initiative, China upholds the principle of equality, openness and transparency and sticks to enterprise-oriented market operations as well as market laws and well-accepted international rules. Each and every project is the outcome of equal-footed consultation. The Guiding Principles on Financing the Development of the Belt and Road co-formulated by 27 countries including China aims to build a financing environment that is transparent, friendly, non-discriminatory and predictable, highlights the economic and social sustainable development, and pursues a balance between capital mobilization and debt sustainability. It is on the basis of these principles that China conducts its Belt and Road investment and financing cooperation, and such cooperation has helped many developing countries break financing bottlenecks. The governments and peoples of our partners have the most say in judging how their cooperation with China is faring.
Facing a worldwide surge of protectionism, more visible spill-over effects of major economies' monetary policies and an increase of uncertainties and destabilizing factors, some developing countries have seen their macro-economic stability under strain. Coupled with shifts in some countries' political landscape and frequent natural disasters, several Belt and Road projects met temporary setbacks. These growing pains can only be resolved by relevant parties through extensive consultation and joint contribution. If these temporary setbacks led to the rash conclusion that the Belt and Road Initiative met headwinds worldwide and China's investment and financing cooperation is to blame, then it is typical overgeneralization, a highly irresponsible mistake that fails to reflect the reality and the overarching trend. No cooperation partner of China has been dragged into a debt crisis because of its cooperation with China, and none of the so-called debt crises reported by the media were caused by China. We hope that relevant media reports could respect the truth, take off their tinted glasses, and make more objective, unbiased and all-sided reports. Their readers deserve the true story.