Remarks at the Paasikivi Society by Chinese Ambassador H.E.Mr. Chen Li
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good evening! It's an honor to be here, and share with you some of my knowledge about the Belt and Road Initiative.
You may know that, at the end of last month the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) was held in Beijing. With 38 countries' heads of state and government attended, the Forum has attracted close attention from the international community.
In recent years, Belt and Road has become a frequently used word and a hot topic. I noticed, in EU when people talk about China, about economy, investment or connectivity, they often talk about Belt and Road. But I also noticed that, not everyone fully understand the concept. Therefore, I'd like to take today's opportunity to answer some of the common questions.
The very first question would be "what on earth is Belt and Road?", or "how does Belt and Road come into being?" Let's go back to September 2013. When visiting Kazakhstan, Chinese President Xi Jinping made a speech in local University, where he raised the "Silk Road Economic Belt initiative". And one month later, during a speech in the parliament of Indonesia, President Xi put forward the idea of jointly building "the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road". With these two initiatives combined, the Belt and Road Initiative came alive.
As the name revealed, Belt and Road is inherited from the Ancient Silk Road. In Han Dynasty, 2100 years ago, a man named Zhang Qian, a pioneer diplomat, visited Central Asia twice, paving for the Ancient Silk Road. Later on through the silk road, China's tea, silk, chinaware and other products with culture went all the way west to Rome, and products and culture from the west vice versa. People say it's the very beginning of globalization. Through thousands of years, the Ancient Silk Road evolved its own spirit, featuring peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit.
The reason why China raised Belt and Road Initiative, is to seek solutions to development issues of today's world from the Ancient Silk Road spirit. And by boosting connectivity between Asia and Europe, more countries will benefit from globalization. More land-locked countries will become land-linked. The BRI is guided by the principle of extensive consultation, joint construction and shared benefits.
We often say there are five priorities, or five pillars in the Belt and Road Initiative, namely policy coordination, facilities connectivity, free trade, financial integration and people-to-people bonds.