Premier Li’s trip to help forge consensus and promote connectivity

CRI | 作者: Cui Hongjian | 时间: 2018-10-22 | 责编: Wang Jiapei
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China’s Premier Li Keqiang is currently on a trip to Tajikistan, the Netherlands, and Belgium, which will also see him attend the Prime Minister's meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and 12th Asia-Europe Meeting. The visit is a major part of the effort by China to forge consensus on bilateral and regional affairs and promoting greater connectivity between China and its partners in Asia and Europe. 

Promoting connectivity by dovetailing development strategies

Despite the substantial distances, development levels, and national conditions of Tajikistan, the Netherlands, and Belgium, all three countries enjoy good bilateral relations with China, and sharing a common desire to cooperate in the Belt and Road Initiative.

China and Tajikistan are neighbors with a comprehensive strategic partnership based on a high level of political mutual trust. This partnership provides robust support for economic cooperation between the two sides. Tajikistan’s national development strategy prioritizes industrial development between now and 2030, and focuses on the development of transportation, energy, and advanced agriculture. This strategy is highly compatible with the Belt and Road Initiative, which is why Tajikistan became the first country to sign a Belt and Road memorandum of understanding with China. China has become Tajikistan's main trading partner and is the country’s largest source of foreign investment. With China’s help, Tajikistan has unified both its national road network and its power grid, and a cross-border road currently under construction will bring the future development of the two countries even closer together. 

Premier Li's visit will undoubtedly enrich China and Tajikistan’s comprehensive political, economic and cultural partnerships by providing more opportunities for economic development and an improvement of the livelihood of the people of the two countries. 

The Netherlands and Belgium are both developed economies at the core of the European Union. Due to their geographical location, the two countries were once important ports along the ancient Silk Road; today they have become important links between China and Europe along the Belt and Road. China’s relationship with the Netherlands and Belgium has developed rapidly in recent years. It has established open, friendly, and comprehensive partnerships with both countries, which provide a model for friendly and mutually beneficial relationships between countries with different systems and economies of a different scale. The three countries have a solid foundation for cooperation in trade, mutual investment, and technological innovation, and it’s expected that Premier Li's visit will facilitate the further development and deepening of China’s relations with the two countries. 

Forging consensus through pragmatic cooperation

At this critical time, where the international situation is changing dramatically and there is fierce competition between multilateralist and unilateralist policies, Premier Li’s visit will seek to build more consensus by exploring opportunities for pragmatic cooperation through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Asia-Europe Meeting. 

The SCO has become a comprehensive regional organization with biggest population and territory for an organization of its kind. Its Qingdao summit in June embodied the consensus of the member states for promoting the "Shanghai spirit" and building a community with a shared future. As its influence and experience continues to grow, the SCO will maintain its two-pronged approach of maintaining regional security and promoting economic cooperation through cooperation in trade, investment, production capacity, and connectivity. 

Encompassing nearly 43 percent of the world’s population and 21 percent of its GDP, it is time for SCO member states to jointly resist the countercurrent of anti-globalization, and to push back against unilateralism and protectionism. Premier Li's participation in the SCO Heads of Government meeting will help forge this consensus with his counterparts.

The Asia-Europe Meeting is an important platform for cooperation between Asia and Europe, and an important link for deepening the partnership between the two regions. The vast majority of countries in Asia and Europe regard free trade and open economies as the foundation of their prosperity. This is why the 12th Asia-Europe Meeting is being held under the banner “Global partners responding to global challenges”. It is expected to provide a remarkable opportunity to promote connectivity and unleash the potential for cooperation among the participants. The European Union will launch its strategy of “Connecting Europe and Asia” at the meeting, which sends a positive signal for Europe's opening to Asia. 

On the basis of rules-based consultation and experience sharing in a spirit of equality, the European Union’s goal of connecting Europe and Asia can be fully integrated with the Belt and Road Initiative, which provides more space for practical cooperation between Europe and China, and with Asia more generally. This cooperation has a great potential to play a more active role in global and regional governance, and to safeguard multilateralism and the rules-based international order. In doing so, it will make a major contribution to peace, development, and stability in the world.

Both the SCO and the Asia-Europe Meeting are becoming platforms for pragmatic cooperation. At a time when our globalized, multi-polar world is facing a tide of unilateralism and protectionism, Premier Li's visit will help to vigorously promote multilateral cooperation, free trade, and a more open world economy.




Cui Hongjian is the head of the European Studies Department at the China Institute of International Studies. 



Source: China Plus, CRI, October 13, 2018.