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BRI gaining more global recognition

By Chen Yingqun | China Daily | Updated: 2019-10-28 09:01

Analysts: Achievements in promoting growth help create positive image

There is an increasing global recognition of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, especially of its contribution to the regional and global economy, analysts said.

Yu Yunquan, president of the Academy of Contemporary China and World Studies, said the BRI has been promoted pragmatically since it was proposed in 2013 and has many concrete achievements, bringing benefits to the economies and people's lives in the countries involved.

"Thus, more people overseas are aware of the BRI and hold positive views about it," he said.

The BRI aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe, Africa and beyond.

About 20 percent of people overseas know of the BRI, and 55 percent of them held positive views about the BRI's contribution to the regional and global economy, said a recent poll conducted jointly by the Academy of Contemporary China and World Studies and the global consulting company Kantar, from May to July in 2018.

"The global awareness of the BRI has been growing steadily," said Lina Zhang, client director of Kantar, adding that in 2014, only 6 percent of overseas respondents had heard of both the "Silk Road Economic Belt" and the "21st Century Maritime Silk Road", which are the main components of the BRI.

The survey asked 11,000 people, aged between 18 and 65, from 22 countries, to evaluate the BRI's significance to individuals, countries, regions and the world. Indians had the highest awareness of BRI, with 50 percent of respondents knowing about it, followed by Japan (43 percent), Italy (40 percent), and Russia (30 percent), the poll said.

Yu said that one in every five foreigners knowing about the BRI meant that the initiative had already won much higher attention than many other global initiatives.

"The BRI is an operation platform for global cooperation," he said. "And whether it is in countries that are involved in it yet or not, people have more awareness about it."

He also added that connectivity of infrastructure and trade, which could directly be connected to ordinary people's interests and bring tangible benefits to them, are the issues of most concern for respondents.

"China has helped many countries involved in the BRI build railways, roads, and bridges, which could improve transportation, offer job opportunities and gives impetus to local economic development," he said.

Moreover, trade connectivity could drive the flow of goods and people among the countries involved in the initiative, directly boosting economic development and improving people's livelihoods, Yu added.

Figures from China's Ministry of Commerce showed that from January to September this year, Chinese companies had increased investment in 56 countries along the Belt and Road, totaling $10.04 billion.

Tom Simpson, China managing director of the China-Britain Business Council, or CBBC, said that in the United Kingdom, people's awareness of the BRI is increasing, though work still needs to be done to increase their level of understanding about this initiative.

"The UK Treasury has appointed a BRI special envoy, which demonstrates the level of interest in the BRI that the British government has," he said, adding that the CBBC had also produced a series of reports on the BRI to help UK companies to better understand the opportunities to participate.

"We are seeing a growing number of UK accounting firms, law firms, banks and insurers who are working with Chinese companies on BRI projects across the world," he said.

And he added that the British people and companies are most interested in learning about what kind of business opportunities there are and what kind of projects they could get involved in, so that they could use their expertise and services in these projects.

"The BRI is a whole new front for the UK and Chinese companies to work together in global markets," he said. " It enlarges the range of ways that UK and Chinese companies can collaborate."

Hisham AbuBakr Metwally, an economics researcher with the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Trade and Industry, said that in Egypt, China's investment has made more locals familiar with the BRI.

For example, the Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone in Egypt, which has been connected to the BRI, and has attracted dozens of Chinese companies, has "great influence in raising the awareness of Egyptians about BRI", he said.

He said that there are two important aspects about the BRI that Egyptians are interested in knowing about.

"The first is whether they will have mega infrastructure projects like those financed and implemented by China in many countries, as these mega projects have had a good impact on boosting economies and contributing to growth," he said.

The second issue is the promotion of trade between China and Egypt and how Egyptians can benefit from China's trade and financial muscle, he said.

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