Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) for International Cooperation in Beijing, capital of China, May 14, 2017. (Xinhua/Ma Zhancheng)
World leaders brainstormed the advancement of the Belt and Road Initiative at a two-day event starting in Beijing on Sunday, joining China in a chorus of common prosperity.[Special coverage]
Characterized by extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, the Belt and Road links countries and regions that account for about 60 percent of the world's population and 30 percent of global economic output.
Speaking at the opening of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the ambitious intercontinental initiative is "rooted in a shared vision for global development."
A PROJECT OF THE CENTURY
Chinese President Xi Jinping, in a keynote speech delivered at the international gathering attended by heads of state and government from 29 countries, among thousands more others, said the initiative is "a project of the century" that will benefit people across the world.
The Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China in 2013 consists of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along and beyond the ancient Silk Road trade routes.
"Spanning thousands of miles and years, the ancient silk routes embody the spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit," Xi told an audience of more than 1,500.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the historical experience of cooperation between countries linked by the ancient Silk Road through Asia, Europe and Africa is important in the 21st century when the world is facing "very serious challenges."
Calling the Belt and Road Initiative an example of cooperation in such fields as infrastructure, transport and industry, the Russian president said his country has supported the initiative from the very beginning.
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said the breadth of the initiative, the level of participation and its strategic dimensions, highlight its capacity to become the biggest economic cooperation project in place today.
Czech President Milos Zeman, for his part, said he salutes China for this courageous, long-term project.
Over the past years, the Belt and Road Initiative has grown from an embryonic proposal into a network, while a cooperation pattern of shared growth through discussion and collaboration has taken shape.
As of the end of 2016, more than 100 countries and international organizations have expressed their support for the initiative. China has signed 46 cooperation agreements with 39 countries and international organizations, covering a broad range of fields.
The Belt and Road Initiative brings enormous benefits to all involved and serves as a main driver of the global transformation under the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, said Peter Thomson, President of the UN General Assembly who is also present at the forum.