WASHINGTON — The action plan of the Belt and Road Initiative recently released by China was “a great and historic endeavor,” said US scholars in Washington.
“I was highly impressed with President Xi’s Speech at Boao (Forum for Asia). The plan he described is historic and will have dramatic implications for the entire Asian Region and many other parts of the world as well,” Robert Hormats, former Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment, told Xinhua on April 3.
“These initiatives combined represent a historically important set of international economic initiatives led by China; there has been nothing of this scale and historical significance since the 1940s and 1950s,” said Hormats, adding “this is truly a great and historic endeavor.”
Pieter Bottelier, a senior adjunct professor of China studies at the School of Advanced International Studies of the Johns Hopkins University, echoed, saying “I am very impressed by the action plan announced by the (Chinese) government. It opens significant new perspectives on development in central and western Asia.”
China published an action plan on March 28 for its Belt and Road Initiative proposed last year covering an area from China to Europe. The plan has been established on four principles — openness and cooperation; harmony and inclusiveness; market operation; and mutual benefits, emphasizing policy coordination, connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to- people bonds.
The US experts hailed the essence of cooperation in the plan and believed it was one of the key elements for the plan to succeed in future.
“I think the Belt and Road initiatives can make a major contribution to the region if regional neighbors are actively involved in all phases of design and implementation which seems to be a key feature of the plan,” said Hormats.
Bottelier said China has the capability and financial resources to provide those public goods globally, which makes the plan look “very interesting and promising.” The success of the plan “depends really on the quality of the projects and on the degree of the cooperation between China and neighboring countries,” Bottelier added.
Hormats believed the United States should welcome these initiatives and cooperate with China on this plan as it will be “very constructive” both geopolitically and economically.
The US government once has a New Silk Road plan aiming to advance Afghanistan’s prosperity after the reduction or withdrawal of US troops, said Hormats, adding China also has “a strong interest in a stable and prosperous Afghanistan,” keeping it away from terrorism.
Regional maritime cooperation and ongoing trade negotiations will also be very much benefited from the cooperation between two countries on this plan, Hormats said.
What’s more, in his view, this plan is especially important in the area of energy, as China is diversifying its sources of energy while the United States is now moving to be a world exporter of natural gas and some oil products.