Belgium's Deputy Prime Minister Kris Peeters told Friday's Belt and Road forum held in Brussels that Belgium is expected to become the member of China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank next year. (Fu Jing for China Daily)
Belgium is on the way to becoming the next European country, after the UK, Czech Republic and Greece to actively engage in China's Belt and Road Initiative to better connect Asia, Europe and Africa, according to deputy Belgian Prime Minister Kris Peeters.
He told Friday's Belt and Road forum held in Brussels that Belgium is expected to become a member of the China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
"We have much to gain from this initiative. Belgium hopes to become a member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank next year," Peeters told the forum, organized by Chinese Embassy in Belgium.
The embassy organized the event as part of its efforts to mark the 45th anniversary of China-Belgium relations. Peeters also said the Belgian ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge are ready to contribute to the success of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Earlier this week, when Peeters met visiting Vice-Premier Ma Kai, he confirmed that Belgium is among the group of European countries which will live up to the obligations agreed with China when it signed World Trade Organization treaty 15 years ago.
Peeters said he was impressed by the progress China has made within just three years after President Xi Jinping proposed the Belt and Road Initiative. "For the past three years, China has indeed been the driving force behind these unprecedented initiatives," said Peeters.
Peeters said he knows the proposal involve already more than 60 countries, 4.4 billion people, representing well over half of global GDP. "This has led to new forms of cooperation and the creation of new financial instruments and institutions, such as the Silk Road Fund and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank," he said.
"Belgium is ready to join you on the exciting path of the One Belt One Road Initiative. We may be a relatively small country, certainly in comparison with China, but we are very big in terms of creating and strengthening links."
Qu Xing, the Chinese Ambassador to Belgium, said the Belt and Road Initiative aims to promote the connectivity of Asian, European and African continents and their adjacent seas, tap market potential, and promote Asia to secure a favorable position in the global supply chain, industrial chain and value chain.
"It is not a Chinese strategy that requires support from other countries, but rather a Chinese initiative open for participation of all," he said, adding that this project will only succeed when it is jointly built through consultation to meet the interests of all.
Qu also said under the "Belt and Road" framework, a number of cross-border infrastructure projects covering 44 countries have started construction this year, and some have even come into service.
Qu said Belgium is located in the western end of the Eurasian continent, and enjoys convenient transportation and well-developed logistics, so thus has great advantage in carrying out cooperation with China.
In respect of the policy coordination, high-level mutual visits are frequent, said Qu.
In 2014, President Xi Jinping paid a state visit to Belgium and the two sides agreed to strengthen cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road initiative, especially the railway connection between China's western regions and the port of Antwerp.
In June last year, King Philippe paid a return state visit to China and witnessed the signing of more than 90 agreements and contracts. During a visit to Belgium in June of last year, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, together with Prime Minister Charles Michel, witnessed the signing of 12 cooperation agreements, accounting for more than 20 billion dollars.
"When we celebrate the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations, I believe the cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative framework will bring our connections to new highs," said Qu.