Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli (L) and his Russian counterpart Arkady Dvorkovich shake hands during the 13th meeting of the China-Russia Energy Cooperation Committee in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi, May 30, 2016. [Photo/Xinhua]
BEIJING — Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli’s recent four-nation tour harvested a broader consensus on the Silk Road Economic Belt initiative as his counterparts and other country leaders hailed the initiative a great opportunity for regional cooperation and home development.
Zhang’s nine-day visit started on May 30 in Sochi, Russia, and ended on June 7 in Yerevan, Armenia, with meetings and talks in Azerbaijan and Georgia.
China’s Silk Road Economic Belt initiative was a main topic for discussion during Zhang’s visit.
When attending the second China-Russia small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with Zhang in Sochi, Russian Vice Premier Arkady Dvorkovich encouraged enterprises from both countries to take the opportunities that arise from efforts to integrate China’s Silk Road Economic Belt initiative with the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union to seek new economic growth points in areas of energy, aviation, telecommunications, ship building, high-speed trains, transportation, agriculture and cooperation with neighboring regions.
He promised that Russia will work harder to lift barriers in such fields as policy access, intellectual property protection and taxation to help companies seize the chances.
Russia and China signed a joint declaration on May 8, 2015 on the integration of the development projects of the Eurasian Economic Union and China’s Silk Road Economic Belt.
During his meeting with Zhang on May 31, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said his country is ready to give full play to its geographic location so as to actively participate in the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt.
Aliyev welcomed more Chinese investment and underlined the great cooperation potential between China and Azerbaijan, particularly in such fields as energy, transport, trade of agricultural products, high-technology and tourism.
The Silk Road Economic Belt initiated by China is of great significance to Georgia, President Giorgi Margvelashvili said on June 3 with pride in his country’s geographic advantage and rich resources.
Georgia is willing to give full play to its unique geographic location and enhance cooperation with China in areas including railway transportation, port and road construction, and welcomes more Chinese investment, the president said.
Georgia’s national strategy to turn itself into a logistic and transport hub coincides with China’s bid to build the Silk Road Economic Belt, Zhang said in the meeting with the president.
Zhang’s visit to Georgia also push forward negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) between Chin and Georgia, with the third round of talks scheduled for July in Tbilisi.
During his last stop in Yerevan, Zhang said China and Armenia need to work together to promote the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt, better integrate each other’s development strategies and expand areas of common interests.
President Serzh Sargsyan echoed Zhang’s remarks, promising to actively participate in the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt and give more favorable conditions to investors.
Closer cooperation with China on copper smelting, chemical industry, transportation infrastructure, trade on agricultural products, tourism and education should be promoted, Sargsyan added.
The initiative of the “Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road” was put forward by the Chinese government in 2013 with an aim to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road routes.