|The Belt and Road Initiative +Saudi Vision 2030----Endowing China-Saudi Arabia Cooperation with New Opportunities and Broad Prospects|
Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Jeddah Tan Banglin
October 1st will mark the anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Over the past 69 years, China has attained remarkable achievements, developing from a country suffering from chronic poverty and declining national strength to the world's second largest economy.
This year marks the fifth anniversary since the proposal of the Belt and Road Initiative. On this memorable occasion, I would like to share with readers who care about China-Saudi Arabia relations the great opportunities and rosy prospects for bilateral practical cooperation I have seen in synergizing the Belt and Road Initiative with the Saudi Vision 2030.
The friendship between Chinese and Saudi Arabian people goes back to ancient times. For thousands of years, through the ancient Silk Road, Chinese tea, silk, porcelain and China's four great inventions, namely papermaking, printing, gunpowder and compass spread to Europe via the Arabian Peninsula while Arab astronomy, calendar and medicine as well as Islam entered China. The ancient port of Jeddah stands as a living monument to these past interactions. In the 15th century, the fleet led by Zheng He, the famous Chinese navigator, once reached Jeddah and Mecca. Antiques, be it Chinese porcelain excavated in the ruins of al-Serrian by China-Saudi Arabia joint archaeological team or the famous Chinese painting Silk Road Landscape Map depicting scenery from Jiayu Pass, China to Mecca, all bear witness to the friendship between the Chinese and Saudi people.
As Lao-tzu, a Chinese philosopher, observed that the relation of the Tao to all the world is like that of the great rivers and seas to the streams from the valleys. Spanning thousands of miles and years, the ancient Silk Road embodies the spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit. In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the initiative of jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (the Belt and Road Initiative for short). With an in-depth understanding of its core essence and complying with the trend of the times--peace and development, the initiative adheres to the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits and stays committed to improving policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bonds among countries along the route to realize connectivity and common development for all in the new era.
Over the past five years, a large number of cooperation projects under the Belt and Road Initiative have already delivered tangible benefits to participating countries and won more and more support and response in the international community. China has so far signed cooperative documents with over 100 countries and international organizations including Saudi Arabia. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank now has 86 member states, becoming the world's second largest multilateral development organization only second to the World Bank. The Belt and Road Initiative and its core principle have been included in important resolutions adopted by the United Nations, the G20, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and other international mechanisms.
Though birthed in China, the Belt and Road Initiative bears fruits throughout the globe. Over the past five years, a large number of demonstration projects have been implemented, injecting strong impetus to the infrastructure construction and economic development of relevant countries.
China has expanded its trade and investment cooperation with countries along the route, bringing benefits to all sides. In the first half of this year, China's total trade volume with countries along the route reached US$605 billion, an increase of 18.8%, while China's direct investment in the non-financial sectors of these countries registered US$7.4 billion, increasing by 12%. China has established more than 80 economic and trade cooperation zones in 43 countries and attracted nearly 3,500 enterprises to get registered in these zones, which created US$2.2 billion in tax revenue and 244,000 jobs for host countries.
Till now, the China-Europe freight rail service has made over 10,000 trips and sent nearly 800,000 TEUs of goods from 48 Chinese cities to 43 cities in 15 European countries, boosting economic and trade exchanges between China and Europe.
In the next five years, China is ready to import US$2 trillion worth of goods from countries along the route and make an estimated $150 billion investment in relevant countries.
As a Chinese saying goes, "nothing, not even mountains and oceans, can separate people with shared goals and vision." China and Saudi Arabia are natural partners in the Belt and Road cooperation. China is willing to help Saudi Arabia realize diversified economic development as well as the Saudi Vision 2030. The two sides share strong complementarities and enjoy great potentials and broad prospects in mutually beneficial cooperation. In the recent three years, the two heads of state have paid visits to each other; and the China-Saudi Arabia High-level Joint Committee has played an increasingly important role in guiding and coordinating cooperation; the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries has been continuously deepened; and the Belt and Road Initiative has further been synergized with the Saudi Vision 2030. China has signed 30 major cooperative agreements with Saudi Arabia, covering such fields as energy, finance, investment, housing, water resources, quality inspection, science, technology, culture, post, telecommunication, and media. A new pattern of all-round cooperation between China and Saudi Arabia is forming, and China-Saudi Arabia comprehensive strategic partnership has been continuously enriched.
In a world aspiring for peace and development, the close interdependence among countries has made the trend of opening-up, cooperation, reform and innovation irresistible. The synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative and the Saudi Vision 2030 not only benefits both parties, but also becomes a pacesetter for regional cooperation. There is an Arabian proverb that says, "To seek truth, one shall never be frightened by the long distance", while coincidentally, in China, another saying goes that, "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Chinese people are willing to stand side-by-side with the Saudi people in building a new type of international relations as well as a community with a shared future for mankind.