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Belt and Road Forum to draw new blueprint for common development

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Since landing her job at the China-Laos Railway, Somphone Inleuangsy has seen her dream come true, becoming one of the first female train drivers in Laos.

The first transnational railway built under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the railway connecting Kunming City of China with Vientiane City of Laos could raise Laos’ aggregate income by up to 21 percent over the long term, according to a World Bank study.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has proposed the BRI in 2013 and envisioned it as a “path to happiness.” Over the past decade, under Xi’s leadership, the initiative has brought nearly a trillion U.S. dollars of investment, created over 420,000 jobs in partner countries, and helped lift nearly 40 million people out of poverty.

As this year marks the 10th anniversary of the BRI, China is hosting the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) from Tuesday to Wednesday, which is centered around the theme of “High-quality Belt and Road Cooperation: Together for Common Development and Prosperity.”

To date, representatives from over 140 countries and 30-plus international organizations have confirmed their attendance at the third BRF. More than 4,000 delegates have registered for participation.

President Xi will attend the opening ceremony of the third BRF and deliver a keynote speech on Wednesday, and hold a welcome banquet and bilateral events for the guests attending the forum.

In a recent interview, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu said the third BRF is expected to produce substantial outcomes, both in the forms of cooperation documents, initiatives and mechanisms, and in terms of projects, funds and measures.

The total number of deliverables is likely to exceed those of the previous two forums, said Ma.

Fruitful results expected

Apart from the opening ceremony of the third BRF, three high-level forums will be held simultaneously for in-depth discussions on connectivity, green development and the digital economy.

Additionally, six thematic forums will be conducted in parallel under the topics of trade connectivity, people-to-people bonds, think tank exchanges, clean Silk Road, subnational cooperation, and maritime cooperation. A CEO Conference will also be held during the BRF.

A Chair’s Statement will be issued to capture the consensus reached by participants and lay out the future direction and key areas of high-quality Belt and Road cooperation.

A List of Multilateral Cooperation Deliverables and a List of Practical Projects will also be released to present the outcomes reached under the framework of the three high-level forums and six thematic forums.

Wang Wen, executive dean of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at the Renmin University of China, believes that the third BRF is expected to reap a series of pragmatic fruits that continue to support BRI participating nations in overcoming connectivity bottlenecks, eradicating poverty, improving people’s livelihoods, and increasing employment.

‘Golden principles’

Founded on the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution, and shared benefits, the BRI advocates win-win cooperation in pursuit of the greater good and shared interests.

The initiative emphasizes that all countries are equal participants, contributors and beneficiaries, and encourages economic integration, interconnected development, and the sharing of achievements, according to a white paper titled “The Belt and Road Initiative: A Key Pillar of the Global Community of Shared Future.”

By June 2023, China had signed more than 200 BRI cooperation agreements with more than 150 countries and 30 international organizations across five continents, yielding a number of signature projects and small-scale yet impactful projects.

In advancing BRI cooperation, China will adhere to the “golden principles” of extensive consultation, joint contribution, and shared benefits, stay committed to open, green and clean cooperation, and aim at high standards, sustainability, and better lives, said Ma.

“Together with our partners, China will advance the high-quality development of the BRI on a larger scale, at a deeper level, and to a higher standard to progress continuously toward the goals of common development and prosperity,” he added.

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