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Consul General Huang Ping Delivered a Keynote Speech on the Belt and Road Initiative on the Opening Ceremony of 2019 Penn Wharton China Summit
2019/04/30
 

On April 19th, Consul General Huang Ping was invited to attend the opening ceremony of 2019 Penn Wharton China Summit and deliver a keynote speech on the Belt and Road Initiative. Geoffrey Garrett, Dean of Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Max Baucus, former United States Ambassador to China, guests of various industries as well as teachers and students of the University of Pennsylvania attended the ceremony.

     

According to Huang Ping, a well-known Chinese saying goes that "If you want to make money, first build the road." Since the reform and opening-up 40 years ago, China has gone from a poor, underdeveloped country with limited transportation, to a country with convenient transportation with 30,000 kilometers of high-speed railways and 4 million kilometers of rural roads. This has boosted China's local economy and balanced urban and rural development as well as regional development.

As China builds up more roads for ourselves, we are also working with other countries to build more connections across the globe, which "road" is the Belt and Road Initiative. In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the Belt and Road Initiative, whose full name is the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. Based on the idea of the ancient Silk Road, it has a broader vision in promoting not only trade but connectivity in policy, infrastructure, finance, and people-to-people ties. To put it simply, the Belt and Road Initiative is to pave both visible roads and invisible roads among countries, and by doing so, to enhance global coordination and cooperation.

Huang Ping pointed out that some people regard the Belt and Road Initiative as the 21st century "Marshall Plan", as China's effort to form a country bloc to hedge against America's Indian-Pacific Strategy, or as a debt trap in which China imposes discriminatory trade terms on others. Such views are less than objective or balanced. They are simply a misunderstanding, misrepresentation and even biased view of the Belt and Road Initiative. In fact, the Belt and Road Initiative is all about opening-up, shared growth, and joint cooperation.

The Belt and Road Initiative is an important part of China's opening-up effort. Although China has now become the second largest economy in the world, we are still confronted with inadequate and unbalanced development. China needs to further open up its central and western region, giving more play to its resources and economic potential. With the help of the Belt and Road Initiative's six economic corridors, China's central and western provinces will enjoy closer ties to the regional and global market and become more outbound and internationalized.

The Belt and Road Initiative champions shared development instead of the zero-sum game. The Marshall Plan was born in the Cold War era whose goal was to support Western Europe against the Soviet Union. However, the Belt and Road Initiative was born in the 21st century in which the world is embracing multilateralism, free trade, and great power responsibilities. We have no intention to target or hedge against any certain country. Instead, we aim at making the cake bigger for everyone.

The Belt and Road Initiative is the world's symphony, not China's solo. Guided by the principle of consultation and cooperation for shared benefits, decisions made under the Belt and Road framework are all based on full consultation among the parties and on the basis of due risk assessment and feasibility study. As a matter of fact, no country has gotten trapped in a debt crisis since its participation in the Belt and Road Initiative. On the contrary, through participating in the Belt and Road Initiative cooperation, many countries have gotten out of the trap of "lack of development".

Huang Ping expressed that over six years, the Belt and Road Initiative has achieved fruitful results. As for visible roads, the achievement is quite obvious: Montenegro built its first superhighway, the Maldives owned its first bridge, while Kazakhstan has gained access to the Pacific Ocean for the first time. The Piraeus port in Greece has risen from a little-known small port to the Mediterranean's largest port, and the number of tourists visiting the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe has increased tenfold annually.

What is more, we are happy to see growing complementation between the Belt and Road Initiative and development plans and policies of various parties. At the global level, the Belt and Road Initiative is well aligned with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity, Agenda 2063 of the African Union, the Eurasian Economic Union, and the Europe-Asia Connectivity Strategy of the European Union, thus creating a synergy for improving connectivity and supporting economic integration among regions in the world. The Belt and Road Initiative has also been a tie of people-to-people exchanges, promoting tourism, cultural exchange, overseas studies, sister city relations, and many other kinds of communication. In short, The Belt and Road Initiative is connecting different societies and civilizations and bringing more mutual learning and understanding.

Through six years of hard work, the Belt and Road Initiative has laid its groundwork and entered into the stage of high-quality growth. Later this month, the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation will be held in Beijing. Thirty-seven foreign heads of state and government will join 5000 delegates from 150 countries and 90 international organizations in this forum. China welcomes all participants and looks forward to a full exchange of views on future cooperation plans.

Finally, Huang Ping pointed out that as an important partner of China, the United States has all reasons to join the Belt and Road Initiative, and make the best out of this initiative. The initiative enjoys great potential for being a new spotlight in China-US cooperation and bringing new momentum to the growth of our bilateral relations. As America's next generation of leaders in business and government, the honored guests are supposed to play a greater role in paving the global road and encouraging their people to seize the opportunities presented by the Belt and Road Initiative.

Geoffrey Garrett said that the prosperity of the global economy needs China. Under the Belt and Road Initiative framework, developing countries have attracted a large amount of investment, greatly improved their facilities, and their economy has become more dynamic. Companies in the United States should also actively participate in the Belt and Road Initiative.

Max Baucus indicated that the United States should adopt a positive and patient attitude in developing relations with China. Since the United States and China are inseparable from each other, he hoped that the bilateral relations between the two nations could overcome immediate difficulties and achieve long-term, sound, and stable development.

Distinguished guests and students expressed their opinions that Huang Ping's speech is simple and profound, which further deepened their understanding of the Belt and Road Initiative. They wish that China-US relations would get better and better.

    

The Wharton China Summit is a cultural exchange event founded by Chinese students at the University of Pennsylvania in 2016 whose goal is to enhance the understanding and cooperation between China and the United States through communication and dialogue. This year, the summit is held at the University of Pennsylvania, and guests from various industries including international relations, science, technology, and finance will hold a two-day discussion on the theme of the new pattern between China and the United States.

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