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What to expect from Belt and Road Forum

BEIJING, May 1 -- The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation scheduled for mid-May is a high-profile international meeting on the Belt and Road Initiative, a China-proposed trade and infrastructure plan connecting Asia with Europe and Africa.

China will use the forum to build a more open and efficient international cooperation platform and a closer, stronger partnership network as well as to push for a more just, reasonable and balanced international governance system.

Here is what you need to know about the initiative and the upcoming forum.

-- NEW VISION

The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, which takes the theme "strengthening international cooperation and co-building the 'Belt and Road' for win-win development," will be held from May 14 to 15 in Beijing. President Xi Jinping will attend the opening ceremony and host a round-table leaders' summit.

The forum has been designed to pool more consensus, identify cooperation directions, push forward the implementation of projects, and improve supporting systems.

-- HISTORIC LEGACY

The Belt and Road comprises the land-based Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, which were put forward for the first time by President Xi in September and October 2013 in his subsequent state visits to Kazakhstan and Indonesia.

Building upon the spirit of the ancient Silk Road -- "peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning, and mutual benefits" -- which continues to this day, the initiative targets a modern transnational network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa, with the aim of promoting common development among all parties involved.

-- INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION

More than 100 countries and international organizations have already joined the initiative, of which more than 40 have signed cooperation agreements with China.

The United Nations General Assembly, the UN Security Council and APEC have all incorporated or reflected Belt and Road cooperation in their resolutions and documents.

-- FACILITIES CONNECTIVITY

A series of major transport, energy and communication projects, including the multi-purpose road-rail Padma Bridge in Bangladesh, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and China Railway Express trains to Europe - have witnessed breakthroughs over the past three years and more.

-- UNIMPEDED TRADE

Trade between China and countries along the Belt and Road totaled 6.3 trillion yuan (about 913 billion U.S. dollars) in 2016, more than a quarter of China's total trade value.

Chinese businesses have invested more than 50 billion U.S. dollars in countries along the Belt and Road, and helped build 56 economic and trade cooperation zones in 20 of those countries, generating nearly 1.1 billion U.S. dollars in tax revenue and 180,000 local jobs.

-- FINANCIAL INTEGRATION

China has dedicated 40 billion U.S. dollars to a Silk Road Fund and set up the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in 2015 to provide financing for infrastructure improvement in Asia.

So far, the AIIB has seen its membership increase to 70, with the multilateral development bank's total lending amounting to over 2 billion dollars.

-- ECONOMIC CORRIDORS

China is also pushing forward six economic corridors in the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, namely, the New Eurasian Continental Bridge, the China-Mongolia-Russia corridor, the China-Central Asia-West Asia corridor, the China-Indochina Peninsula corridor, the China-Pakistan corridor, and the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar corridor.

Together, the six corridors form a trade and transport network across Eurasia, laying a solid foundation for regional and transregional development plans.

-- PEOPLE-TO-PEOPLE BOND

While the "hard connection" of rail lines and ports brings countries closer through ease of travel and logistics, "soft connections" will bring their people together.

On June 22, 2016, during a speech at the Legislative Chamber of the Uzbek Supreme Assembly in Tashkent, Xi called for building a green, healthy, intelligent and peaceful Silk Road, laying out the future of the initiative.

-- GLOBALIZATION

The significance of the forum is especially timely given the rise of anti-globalization.

At a time when certain Western powers are retreating into protectionism and isolation, China has been promoting the globalization of the economy in a spirit of openness and inclusiveness. China will unswervingly continue to open up and push globalization with Chinese wisdom.

-- WIDE PARTICIPATION

More than 1,200 people will attend the forum scheduled for mid-May, including officials, scholars, entrepreneurs, representatives of financial institutions and media organizations from 110 nations, as well as representatives from more than 60 international organizations.

They include heads of state and government from at least 28 countries, as well as UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres, World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, and managing director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde.

-- CONCRETE OUTCOMES

Results of the forum are expected to range from consensus building to specific measures on implementation. China expects to sign cooperative documents with nearly 20 countries and more than 20 international organizations at the event.

China will also work with countries along the routes on nearly 20 action plans concerning infrastructure, energy and resources, production capacity, trade and investment.

The round-table leaders' summit, to be held on May 15, will issue a document defining goals and principles and refining cooperative measures.

During the forum, all parties will identify major cooperative projects, set up working groups and establish an investment cooperation center. They will sign financing agreements to support their cooperative projects.

China will work with all parties on a set of measures, including an improved financial cooperation mechanism, a cooperation platform for science, technology and environmental protection, and enhanced exchanges and training of talent.

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