China will take further measures to boost cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, Commerce Minister Zhong Shan said Sunday, outlining major tasks for the next stage.
China will launch new cooperation platforms including the first China International Import Expo, as well as pilot zones for free trade, and development and cooperation zones, Zhong said at a press conference on the sidelines of the annual national legislative session. [Special coverage]
Priority will be given to major investment and foreign aid projects, to make sure that they will deliver positive socioeconomic impacts, lead as flagship projects, and be well received like "shiny pearls along the Belt and Road," said the minister.
China will facilitate e-commerce through big data, cloud computing and artificial intelligence services to help Belt and Road countries develop digital economy and fit into economic globalization.
The country will also work to promote the liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment along the Belt and Road, while carrying out major foreign aid projects including the Happy Home Projects, the Anti-Poverty Projects and the Health Recovery Projects, Zhong said.
He said the Belt and Road should be built into "a road of peace, prosperity, opening up as well as innovation, and one that connects different civilizations."
More than 140 countries have participated in or responded to the initiative since it was proposed by China in 2013, said the minister.
In 2017, trade volume between China and countries along the Belt and Road amounted to 7.4 trillion yuan (about 1.2 trillion U.S. dollars), surging 17.8 percent year on year, outpacing the 14.2-percent increase in China's total foreign trade last year, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Feb. 28.