LONDON — The Belt and Road Initiative offers opportunities in logistics and stimulates supply in China and Britain, a British expert told Xinhua, ahead of an upcoming visit by British Prime Minister Theresa May to Beijing.
Britain needs to look beyond traditional partnerships with the European Union and the United States and start to look at China as a new partner, said Kerry Brown, a professor of Chinese studies and director of the Lau China Institute at King’s College London.
May’s three-day visit starting on Jan 31 will be her first official visit to China since she took office in 2016.
Brown highlighted the direct express freight train between London and eastern China’s Yiwu city known as China’s “world supermarket.”
The first China-bound freight train carrying British products left DP World London Gateway terminal on April 10, 2017 and arrived at Yiwu after a 19-day journey. London is the 15th European city on an expanding route of China’s rail freight.
The professor said he expects more tangible projects from the Belt and Road Initiative and it remains to be seen what possibilities the initiative will bring to both countries.
“I think the Belt and Road Initiatives is just a way to think about China in the new way,” he said.
Proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative aims to achieve policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity along and beyond the ancient Silk Road trade routes, thus building a new platform for international cooperation to create new drivers of growth.
So far, over 100 countries and international organizations have responded positively to the initiative and pledged their support. More than 80 countries and international organizations have signed cooperation agreements with China.
As a major outcome reached at the recent China-UK Economic and Financial Dialogue (EFD), China and Britain proposed a bilateral investment fund with the first round of $1 billion to support the initiative.
In a bid to support British businesses’ involvement in the initiative, the British government recently pledged up to 25 billion British pounds ($33.3 billion) worth of financial support for companies participating in the Belt and Road projects in Asia.
However, as Brexit uncertainties remain a grave concern, Britain should better position itself and articulate its policies so as to translate huge potential into reality, Brown said.