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The Third Belt And Road Forum For International Cooperation

Metro Matters
Manzar Naqvi

The third Belt and Road Forum is set to kick off in Beijing on October 17-18, 2023. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) stands as a testament to the power of international cooperation and cultural exchange in the 21st century. Launched over a decade ago, this ambitious project has revitalized a history of cultural exchanges spanning more than two millennia. With participation from over 150 countries, the BRI has ignited a shared aspiration to realize new dreams and create a brighter future for all.

A Decade of Remarkable Transformation: Over the course of just ten years, the BRI has ushered in remarkable and profound changes on a global scale. It has become a major milestone in the history of humanity, fostering economic growth, infrastructure development, and enhanced connectivity among nations. The BRI’s impact transcends geographical boundaries, reshaping the world into a more interconnected and interdependent place.
A Long-Term Transnational Endeavor: The Belt and Road Initiative is not a mere short-term endeavor; it is a long-term, transnational, and systematic global project that addresses a myriad of challenges facing our world. It signifies the successful commencement of a lengthy journey towards a more prosperous and interconnected planet. As we embark on this new starting point, the BRI promises to evolve, demonstrating greater creativity, vitality, and adaptability.
An Open and Inclusive Approach: One of the BRI’s most notable attributes is its openness and inclusivity. This initiative welcomes countries from all corners of the globe to participate, regardless of their size or level of development. Such inclusivity fosters diversity, encourages mutual understanding, and paves the way for a more equitable distribution of benefits. The BRI exemplifies the idea that global development should be a cooperative effort rather than a zero-sum game.
Overcoming Challenges Together: While the future may bring new challenges for the Belt and Road Initiative, it is imperative that all parties involved continue to work together with determination and perseverance. By pooling their efforts, they can surmount any obstacles that may arise and elevate their extensive consultation, joint contribution, and shared benefits to new heights. Cooperation, in the spirit of the BRI, will thrive, ensuring a brighter future for all.
China’s Commitment to a Shared Future: China, as the driving force behind the BRI, remains dedicated to promoting closer and more fruitful cooperation within this framework. The Global Development Initiative, Global Security Initiative, and Global Civilization Initiative are the cornerstones upon which this cooperation is built. Together, these initiatives aim to construct an open, inclusive, clean, and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security, and common prosperity.
The ultimate goals of the BRI are to pass on the torch of peace from generation to generation, sustain development, ensure the flourishing of civilizations, and build a global community of shared destiny. In this pursuit, China stands ready to collaborate with other countries, leveraging the BRI as a vehicle for achieving these noble aspirations.
The Belt and Road Initiative has reinvigorated the age-old history of cultural exchanges, inspiring over 150 countries to unite in the pursuit of shared dreams. Over the past decade, it has brought about significant global transformations, marking a historic milestone in humanity’s journey. As it continues to unfold, the BRI promises to be even more creative, open, and inclusive, offering new opportunities for both China and the rest of the world. Challenges may emerge, but with collective determination, the BRI will overcome them and build a brighter, more interconnected future. China’s commitment to cooperation and shared goals underscores its dedication to building a global community of shared destiny, where peace, security, and prosperity are accessible to all.

Joint Statement between the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa

At the invitation of H.E. Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa, H.E. Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, paid a state visit to South Africa on 22 August 2023. The two leaders had an in-depth exchange of views on China-South Africa relations, China-Africa cooperation, and regional and international affairs of mutual interest. They reached consensus on a series of important related issues.
1. The two sides spoke highly of the substantial growth of China-South Africa relations over the past 25 years since establishing diplomatic ties in 1998. They agreed that the bilateral relationship enjoys strong growth momentum, deepening political ties, enhanced economic engagement, flourishing technical cooperation, and fruitful people-to-people exchanges. Furthermore, the two sides maintain regular interaction and collaboration on multilateral occasions, which attests to the solid foundation of the China-South Africa friendship and the resilience of bilateral cooperation and demonstrates the increasingly strategic nature of the partnership. In the face of emerging global challenges, the two sides undertook to strengthen their Comprehensive Strategic Partnership henceforth, actively build a quality China-South Africa community, and play a meaningful, joint role in China-Africa relations and South-South cooperation.
2. The two sides reaffirmed their respect and support for each other’s sustainable social-economic development paths and just transitions. South Africa commended China’s impressive development achievements over the past decade, and believes that the Chinese path to modernization offers many lessons. South Africa expressed confidence that China will realize its second centenary goal of building the country into a great modern socialist state in all respects and advance the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts through its path to modernization. China highly commended South Africa’s commitment to building a modern state, embracing diversity and inclusion, and expressed confidence that South Africa will continue to make new achievements in terms of its National Development Plan.
3. South Africa pledged continuous support for China on issues concerning its core interests and major concerns. South Africa reaffirmed its commitment to the one-China policy. China reiterates its respect and support for South Africa’s efforts to safeguard its national interests and social economic development and to better the livelihoods of its citizens. The two sides further agreed that Head-of-State diplomacy is particularly significant to developing China-South Africa relations. They agreed to maintain regular contact between the two heads of state to increase communication and coordination on major issues of mutual interest and chart the course for bilateral relations. The two sides agreed to leverage the role of structured bilateral mechanisms such as the Bi-National Commission (BNC), Strategic Dialogue (S.D.), the Regular Exchange Mechanism (REM) between the National People’s Congress of China and the National Assembly of South Africa, and the High-level People-to-People Exchange Mechanism (PPEM) to deepen exchanges on governance and to promote people-to-people and sub-national interactions at various levels and across different fields to boost bilateral cooperation.
4. The two sides agreed that since its inception ten years ago, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a useful, mutually beneficial platform for international cooperation. The two sides will consider working towards bilateral cooperation and synergy within the BRI and the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP) frameworks. Both sides pledged to continue to seek the strengthening of cooperation in key areas such as infrastructure and logistics; trade and investment; manufacturing; agro-processing; energy and resources; the financial sector; the digital economy; science and technology, and green development.
5. The two sides recognized the important overall guiding role of the 10 Years Strategic Programme on Cooperation between the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa (2020-2029) in bilateral cooperation in various fields. They agreed to continue to strengthen coordination and monitoring of the implementation of the Programme through the annual Strategic Dialogue and other mechanisms and to conduct regular reviews and assessments to ensure its timely, complete and effective implementation to promote mutual benefit and shared prosperity.
6.The two sides acknowledged the achievements of economic and trade cooperation between the two countries, especially with China being South Africa’s largest global trading partner and South Africa being China’s largest trading partner in Africa. The two sides stand ready to further identify specific needs in terms of bilateral cooperation within the China-South Africa Joint Working Group (JWG) and the Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETC), improve the current trade structure, address market access, enhance two-way investment, and to keep industrial and supply chains stable and secure. The two sides encouraged their respective business communities to explore creative ways further to expand two-way trade, increase their manufacturing bases within proximity of the relevant source of raw materials, improve the export of value-added goods from South Africa to China, increase the volume of export of high-quality South African agricultural exports to China and increase new investments in the manufacturing and assembly sector, the transfer of skills and technology, and to enhance local employment.
7. China undertook to continue to support South Africa in addressing its energy security challenges, both in respect of generation and transmission infrastructure, and to actively participate in the South Africa Investment Conferences and other such activities hosted by South Africa. South Africa will actively participate in the China International Import Expo, the China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo and support trade missions between the two countries. South Africa further welcomed the identification of South Africa amongst the top 20 countries for group tourism promotion by Chinese tourists. In this regard, South Africa supports the increase in the frequency of direct flights between South Africa and China.
8. The two sides highly value people-to-people, cultural exchanges, and mutual learning. They acknowledged the role of the High-level People-to-People Exchange Mechanism and expressed satisfaction with the mechanism’s meeting in Cape Town in February this year. The two sides reaffirmed the need to implement and further strengthen social exchanges and cooperation on poverty alleviation strategies; culture; women; youth; education; sport; health; the media; tourism; and other fields at the sub-national level to deepen mutual understanding and friendship, and to consolidate the social foundation of the bilateral relationship.
9. The two sides underscored the need to defend, promote and strengthen the multilateral response to Climate Change and undertake to work together for a successful outcome of the 28th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP28) in the United Arab Emirates in December 2023.
10. The two sides agreed that BRICS cooperation is essential in achieving a more representative and equitable global governance order and promoting more inclusive global economic growth. The two sides agreed to continue supporting the development of BRICS in all three pillars of cooperation and to collaborate with all BRICS members to deepen practical cooperation in various fields and achieve progress in terms of BRICS membership expansion. China supports South Africa as BRICS Chair this year and the outreach to Africa and the Global South and wishes the 15th BRICS Summit success.
11. The two sides agreed to enhance cooperation in international affairs and multilateral institutions, jointly uphold the UN-centred global system, an equitable international order underpinned by international law, and the basic norms governing international relations, based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, including to uphold the rights and interests of developing countries jointly and respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity. South Africa has taken note of the efforts taken by China to promote and foster relations between states predicated on inclusive multilateralism and applauded China for its leadership role in promoting peaceful global cooperation. China expressed its support for a more significant role for South Africa in the United Nations, the G20 and other multilateral mechanisms. China supports South Africa’s Presidency of the G20 in 2025. The two sides further agreed that dialogue and negotiation is the only viable option for resolving the Ukraine conflict, and they will continue to promote talks for peace and play a constructive role in the political settlement of the issue. Furthermore, China welcomed Africa’s recent Ukraine-Russia peace mission.
12. The two sides welcomed the achievements of China-Africa cooperation and fully recognised the critical role of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in advancing the comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership between China and Africa. China also appreciates South Africa’s contribution to developing FOCAC and China-Africa relations. The two sides agreed to further strengthen consultation and coordination on FOCAC affairs to enhance implementation and practical cooperation in various fields under the Dakar Action Plan (2022-2024).
13. The two sides reiterated their resolve to further strengthen cooperation in terms of African affairs and to support the African Union in resolving African conflicts peacefully. China expressed its support for the development of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the African integration process, as well as the efforts of African countries and regional organisations under the auspices of the African Union (A.U.) to provide African solutions to African problems, including to support the A.U.’s early accession to membership of the G20. China supports the second ten-year implementation plan of AU Agenda 2063.
14. At the conclusion of the State Visit, the two leaders jointly witnessed the signing of several bilateral cooperation instruments.
15. The Chinese side expressed its appreciation to H.E. President Cyril Ramaphosa, the South African Government and the people of South Africa for hosting H.E. President Xi Jinping for his 4th State Visit to South Africa.

Joint Statement of the People’s Republic of China and Georgia on Establishing a Strategic Partnership

From July 26 to August 1, 2023, Irakli Garibashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia, attended the opening ceremony of the 31st Chengdu FISU World University Games in China. During the visit, President Xi Jinping met with Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili in Chengdu and Premier Li Qiang met with Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili in Beijing. The two sides had in-depth exchange of views on bilateral relations and international and regional issues of mutual interest and reached broad consensus. The two sides decided to elevate bilateral relations to a strategic partnership.
Both sides share the view that since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries on June 9, 1992, bilateral cooperation has witnessed fruitful results in various fields. In the context of profound and complex evolution of the international and regional situation, both sides share the commitment to expanding cooperation in the political, economic and cultural fields, strengthening collaboration in international affairs, deepening bilateral relations, and safeguarding regional and world peace, stability and development together.
1.Political domain
1.1.The two sides reaffirm their respect for sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries. Georgia firmly adheres to the one-China principle.
1.2.The two sides highlighted that given the current international order and economic globalization, the bilateral ties between China and Georgia have gained considerable importance. Both sides regard each other as an important strategic partner and thus regard the deepening of bilateral relations as a priority of their respective foreign policies.
1.3.Georgia believes that Chinese modernization offers a new path and a new option for mankind to achieve modernization. Both sides expressed their readiness to exchange experience in governance to achieve common development and prosperity.
1.4.The two sides are ready to strengthen high-level political consultations on issues of mutual interest and to enhance strategic mutual trust.
1.5.Both sides emphasized the necessity of expanding ties between central and local governments and political groups and parties to exchange experiences and strengthen interactions in various fields.
1.6.Considering the important role of cooperation between legislative bodies of both countries in the expansion and development of the bilateral ties, both sides emphasized the enhancement of exchanges and cooperation between the two countries’ legislative bodies in various fields and levels and communication and consultation in relevant regional and international organizations.
2.Economic domain
2.1.Both sides welcomed steady growth of bilateral trade in recent years and expressed readiness to further increase bilateral trade, optimize its structure, expand types of products and increase the export of Georgian goods and services to China.
2.2.Georgia welcomes the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China. The two sides have signed documents including the Bilateral Cooperation Plan between the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Government of Georgia under the Framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, to gain greater strengths and opportunities of cooperation. The two sides will strengthen policy coordination and synergy of development planning under the Belt and Road Initiative, deepen exchanges and cooperation in various fields, uphold the principle of consultation and cooperation for shared benefits, and promote open, green and clean cooperation to realize goals of Belt and Road cooperation and promote sustainable development of both sides.
2.3.Both sides expressed readiness to facilitate mutual investment and trade and promote cooperation in the areas of transportation, communications, infrastructure modernization, development and strengthening of the Middle Corridor, digital technologies, manufacturing, upgrading and expansion of railway networks, agriculture and food safety, water resources, environment protection, fighting desertification, water desalination, conformity assessment, usage of Georgia’s transit infrastructure for smooth export of Chinese products to Western markets, the exchange of know-how and technology as well as human resource training.
2.4.The People’s Republic of China and Georgia have enjoyed a Free Trade Agreement since 2018, which played an important role in promoting economic and trade relations between the two countries. The two countries will continue to enhance their cooperation in the framework of the Agreement, support economic and commercial exchanges between the two countries’ institutions and companies based on mutual benefit, and actively explore the possibility of enriching the Agreement.
2.5.Both sides expressed their readiness for the next session of the China-Georgia Economic and Trade Cooperation Commission to enhance information sharing in trade, investment, infrastructure and other topics of cooperation within the scope of the Commission, so as to enhance the quality and efficiency of bilateral exchanges.
2.6.China welcomes Georgia’s active participation in the China International Import Expo. China supports Georgian enterprises in promoting their products via Chinese e-commerce channels.
2.7.Both sides expressed their readiness to intensify cooperation in tourism to promote common development of the sector. China welcomes Georgia to participate in travel exhibitions such as the annual China International Travel Mart.
2.8.China highlights the importance and supports the 4th Tbilisi Silk Road Forum themed “Connecting Today, Resilient Tomorrow”, which will take place in Tbilisi on October 26-27, 2023.
2.9.Georgia views cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European countries as a pragmatic, open and beneficial cross-regional cooperation platform. China welcomes Georgia’s interest in engaging in activities under the framework of this cooperative mechanism as an observer.
2.10.China will study the provisions of preferential loans for Georgia’s implementation of social and infrastructure projects.
3.People-to-People and Cultural domain
3.1.Given the need to deepen bilateral relations under the new conditions, both sides expressed readiness to actively conduct scientific and technological cooperation and renew the agreement on cooperation in the field of science and technology signed between the People’s Republic of China and Georgia in 1993.
3.2.In view of their friendly relations and huge potential of cooperation in the people-to-people and cultural fields, the two sides agreed to enhance their cultural cooperation. They will encourage citizens to visit each other’s countries and strengthen cooperation in tourism, health, youth, and sports. In addition, they will also enhance their exchanges in the areas of film, press and public diplomacy.
3.3.The two sides will study the possibility of mutually designating cultural years, and continue their consultations regarding mutual establishment of cultural center and provide necessary facilitation.
3.4.The two sides will enhance their cooperation in science and higher education. They will promote exchange of teachers and students, strengthen cooperation in science and commercialization of new technologies and implement joint projects.
3.5.The two sides support universities in both countries in carrying out practical cooperation such as joint training programs, and encourage universities to make full use of high-quality digital education resources and combine online and offline channels for cooperation. The two sides will promote student exchange and joint cultivation by making good use of government scholarships and other channels.
3.6.Both sides attach importance to language exchange and cooperation, encourage schools of both countries to carry out Chinese and Georgian languages teaching, stand ready to strengthen exchanges and training of language teachers and support the building of Confucius Institutes (Classrooms).
4.International domain
4.1.The two sides will strengthen coordination and collaboration in regional and international affairs, jointly uphold true multilateralism, firmly uphold the UN-centered international system, the international order based on international law, and the basic norms governing international relations underpinned by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and promote the establishment of a new type of international relations.
4.2.The two sides support the promotion of humanity’s common values of peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom, respect all people’s independent choice of development path suited to their national conditions, and promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.
4.3.Georgia supports the Global Development Initiative proposed by China and is ready to actively participate in cooperation under the Initiative to accelerate implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
4.4.Georgia supports the Global Security Initiative proposed by China. The two sides would like to strengthen exchanges and cooperation under the Initiative’s framework, make joint effort for a peaceful and stable international security environment, and promote and protect common development of countries in the region.
4.5.Georgia supports the Global Civilization Initiative proposed by China. The two sides will cooperate actively to implement this Initiative.