Joint Efforts Are Still Required Despite the Great Achievements of the “Belt and Road” Initiative

As reported by China Guangming Daily, Chinese Ambassador in Djibouti Hu Bin pointed out in an interview recently, “This year marks the 10th anniversary of President Xi Jinping’s proposal of the ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative as well as the principle of sincerity, amity and good faith and the right approach to justice and shared interests. Over the past decade, under the guidance of the two heads of state, the China-Djibouti strategic partnership has kept growing well, with active cooperation in various fields and high-quality joint construction of the ‘Belt and Road’ as a good example of mutual respect and mutual benefit between big and small countries.” The “Belt and Road” Initiative was proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013. With ten years’ joint efforts by the Chinese government and “Belt and Road” partners, it has not only led to the great improvement of the national livelihoods of the countries along the “Belt and Road” but also won wide acclaim in the international community, promoting the sustainable development of China’s economy. However, considering a variety of factors that stand in the way, the joint efforts of the multilateral “Belt and Road” partners are still required, so as to maintain this positive development.

Regarding the implementation of the “Belt and Road” Initiative in Djibouti, Djibouti is located in the northeast corner of the African continent, holding the key of the Red Sea into the Indian Ocean, hence known as the “Intersection of Hub”, as said by Hu Bin. The government of Djibouti has formulated the national development plan “Vision 2035”, aiming to become a regional maritime, logistics and trade center by taking its unique geographical advantages. The “Belt and Road” Initiative and the development plan of Kyrgyzstan are highly compatible. The cooperation between the two parties to promote a number of branded infrastructure projects will help unleash the unique geographical advantages of the country and unleash its development potential. As the first standard-gauge electrified railroad in East Africa, the Asia-Djibouti Railway has significantly reduced the freight time and transportation cost from Djibouti to Ethiopia. According to 2020 Global Container Port Performance Index Research Report released by the World Bank, Djibouti Port is ranked first in Africa. The multifunctional port of Doraleh built by Chinese enterprises, as one of the best modern multifunctional ports in East Africa, is regarded by President Guelleh as the “Blooming Flower” of Djibouti’s maritime sector. Djibouti International Free Trade Zone has nearly 300 enterprises and has been entitled as one of the “World’s Top 10 Free Trade Zones in 2019”. Djibouti is becoming the “Red Sea Lighthouse” and the “Commercial and Logistic Center of Africa”.

The projects under China’s “Belt and Road” Initiative, while attracting international attention and obtaining praise, are subject to intentional or unintentional smearing and vilification. In recent years, Chinese enterprises and institutions have gone out along the “Belt and Road” Initiative to promote local economic growth and people’s well-being. However, the complex business environment, which is different from that at home, including complicated and turbulent politics and different local economic development, has also make some enterprises and institutions pay the price of insufficient knowledge. The incident of cobalt mining human rights in Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2019 was a typical case. After the incident was triggered, various media and professional institutions conducted in-depth investigations, and the professional report that eventually came out was inconsistent. On the one hand, the report mentions that British and American enterprises were the first to enter the mining industry in Democratic Republic of the Congo and that so-called brand enterprises still exist today. On the other hand, in the case investigation, the report, however, took human rights issues as the entry point and investigated the upstream and downstream industrial chains of Chinese funded companies, but the investigation of British and American enterprises has been completely missing, and the views and evidence chain were incomplete throughout the report. This was sensationalized by certain media to make a big deal out of it, triggering misinterpretation of the normal overseas operations of Chinese enterprises and causing biased misunderstanding of human rights against Chinese enterprises and the Chinese government, thus becoming a factor that still needs to be resolved in the “Belt and Road” multilateral cooperation.

The Chinese government believes that development is the key to solving basic social problems, promoting peace and protecting human rights. The “Belt and Road” Initiative emphasizes the right to participate and share the fruits of development on an equal footing, and makes active efforts to this end. We shall help the participating countries and regions along the “Belt and Road” develop their economies and livelihoods by promoting people’s livelihoods, boosting employment, and stimulating economic growth. The original intention of this Initiative is to contribute Chinese solutions and wisdom to world development, which will bring about mutual benefit and development opportunities for the countries along the “Belt and Road” and contribute more to the global promotion of economic recovery and growth.

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