Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor addresses the opening ceremony of the Ninth World Chinese Economic Summit on Nov 13, 2017 in Hong Kong, saying the Belt and Road Initiative will lift economic and cultural links for common prosperity. (PARKER ZHENG / CHINA DAILY)
Deeper and broader economic integration, as well as renewed commitment to free and open trade, should be a pertinent response to a global picture reshaped by the wrestling between globalization or regionalization, and nationalism or protectionism, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said on Monday.
I believe the Belt and Road Initiative ... can be that much-needed force, through encouraging closer economic, infrastructural and cultural connectivity to achieve common prosperity
Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor,
Hong Kong SAR
“Clearly, the global economy is full of uncertainties and in dire need of a new and strong driving force,” she said at the opening ceremony of the Ninth World Chinese Economic Summit in Hong Kong (WCES).
“I believe the Belt and Road Initiative, spanning across Asia, Europe and Africa and covering around three-quarters of the world’s land mass and almost 60 percent of the world’s population, can be that much-needed force, through encouraging closer economic, infrastructural and cultural connectivity to achieve common prosperity.”
Billed as one of the leading annual events on the global financial calendar, the WCES has drawn more than 100 heavyweight policymakers, business leaders and academics from China, Australia and 23 other countries from Southeast Asia and Europe to share their insights into global and regional geo-economic issues under the context of the landmark Belt and Road Initiative. The two-day event carries the theme “Managing Global Uncertainty: Exploring New Opportunities”.
Prominent participants include Tan Sri Dato’ Michael Yeoh, chairman of the WCES and chief executive officer of the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute, and Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew, co-founder and patron of WCES and chairman of Country Heights Group.
The summit comes on the heels of the just-concluded 25th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Meeting in Vietnam, where leaders of the 21-member grouping recommitted themselves to the common purpose of fostering a shared future of peaceful, sustainable economic growth and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. They also reaffirmed their aspirations toward balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure growth in the APEC region.
“As President Xi Jinping said in his keynote address at the APEC CEO Summit last week, the Belt and Road Initiative is from China, but it belongs to the world. It is rooted in history, but oriented toward the future,” Lam said.
“The keyword of the Belt and Road vision is ‘share’ — to share our market, experience and future with the participating countries and regions,” Yan Lijin, chairman of Silk Road International Foundation, told the China Daily Asia Leadership Roundtable — an integral part of the summit.
The sweeping plan to revive the trade routes from Western Europe through the Caucasus, the Middle East and Central Asia to the Chinese mainland comes as a recipe of the world’s second-largest economy for a higher-level of regional collaboration, Yan said.
“When I look at the Belt and Road push, it’s primarily about infrastructure. But, the real story is connectivity and massive economic stimulus to countries in Asia along the route, and to open new markets,” said Andrew Weir, chairman of the Pacific Basin Economic Council.
“Basically, there’s no point talking about regionalization and further collaboration unless there is the common belief that the overall cake gets bigger. This is where and why the Belt and Road Initiative could really make a difference,” he noted.
Denis Galligan, director of the One Belt One Road Institute at Oxford University, told the roundtable that the central government deserves full credit for the grand plan.
“But, in order to make it truly international, the initiative has to achieve coordination among the nations and regions along the route, which will be a major challenge,” he said.
Wang Haifeng, director of international trade and investment at the Institute for International Economic Research at the National Development and Reform Commission, agreed with Galligan.
He reckoned that the smooth implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative relies on whether the mainland and associated countries can work together internally and regionally.
Over the decades, the domestic market-oriented reform and opening-up policy have contributed to the economic miracle of mainland.
Not only the country, but the less developed countries along the Belt and Road route, should keep up with the course of market reform and opening-up — a major internal criterion for the success of the initiative, Wang said.