China will step up efforts to build economic and trade cooperation zones in the Belt and Road economies and promote projects that can benefit all parties, the Ministry of Commerce said.
Qian Keming, vice-minister of commerce, said the ministry would support the upgrading or rebuilding of some economic and trade cooperation zones in economies participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, and construct several new ones to accelerate local development.
To benefit all parties, the ministry will push forward with projects that can improve local infrastructure conditions and people’s livelihoods, and help developing economies better participate in the global division of labor, Qian said on March 9 at a news conference during the two sessions.
Qian said the Belt and Road Initiative fulfills developing nations’ investment needs, rather than increasing their debt pressure. Statistics showed that increased debt in many countries is a result of their long-term debt accumulation, he said, citing the example of Pakistan.
Pakistan has been in the news headlines for its debt problems, yet as much as 42 percent of the country’s foreign debt was borrowed from multilateral institutions, while Chinese debt accounts for only about 10 percent of the total, Qian said.
Qian added that China constructed a large amount of infrastructure such as ports, airports and highways in developing countries, which has encouraged local economic development and brought tangible benefits to their people.
For example, China Railway Construction Corp (International) Ltd recently completed a 52.18-kilometer stretch of a highway in Angola three months ahead of schedule.
The national highway is a key route connecting the Angolan capital of Luanda and Huambo, the southwestern African nation’s second-largest city. The project cuts the traveling time between the two cities by four hours, and stimulates economic development along the route and surrounding areas, the State-owned construction firm said.
Addressing the completion ceremony, Manuel Tavares de Almeida, Angola’s minister of construction and public works, said the quality of the road’s construction met the government’s requirements.
On March 9, Qian from the commerce ministry also commented on certain countries’ tightened security reviews of foreign investment, which may obstruct Chinese companies’ activities.
Qian said: “We are firmly against protectionism in any form, and do not want to see the abuse of security reviews as a means to obstruct normal investment activities.”
He said the ministry would roll out measures to guide enterprises to rationally invest in overseas markets.
Data from the ministry showed that irrational outbound investment continued to be effectively curbed last year, with no new projects reported in sectors including property, sports and entertainment. ODI rose 4.2 percent year-on-year to around $130 billion in 2018.