The Belt and Road Initiative is now facing new challenges as the political environment in China's neighboring countries has become more complicated due to interference from the United States and other Western countries, according to a report on China's borderlands.
Due to the challenges, China needs to adjust its international cooperation plans in the Belt and Road Initiative, which was first proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013, to ensure that the projects under the initiative are sustainable, according to the Annual Report on Chinese Borderland (2020-21), which was released on Wednesday by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Chinese Borderland Research Institute.
The initiative consists of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road trade routes to seek common development and prosperity.
"The US has been trying to isolate China in the global community and interfere with the country's domestic affairs. It also tries to make allies with some developing countries that border China. Because of such changes, the country's borderland regions that are major beneficiaries of the initiative need to rethink their plans for international cooperation to achieve high-quality development," said Chu Dongmei, a researcher at the institute.
Although the construction of large overseas infrastructure projects under the initiative has been slowed down due to the widespread COVID-19 pandemic, the initiative still plays a positive role in boosting international trade and economic development in borderland regions, the report added.
In the first eight months of 2020,1,247 freight train services ran between China and Europe, an increase of 62 percent year-on-year. New routes were also launched despite the pandemic.
"China managed to achieve stable economic development after its epidemic control efforts took effect, so its role as a reliable trade partner for many countries remained unchanged. Also, many countries have a high demand for imported epidemic control equipment from China, which has also contributed to the healthy development of the initiative," Chu said.
She said that borderland regions need to work together in order to benefit from the initiative. For example, northeastern regions, the Inner Mongolia autonomous region and the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region can cooperate in boosting trade with Russia.
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