|Ambassador Xiao’s Speech at the Belt and Road Media Briefing|
Welcome to today’s media briefing. This year marks the 10thanniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative. From Oct. 17th to 18th, the 3rd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation will be held in Beijing, and representatives from over 140 countries and 30-plus international organizations have confirmed their attendance. The Greek Minister of Development Kostas Skrekas will be attending, representing Greek government. This global event has attracted worldwide attention, as China will work together with all parties, including Greece, to draw up a new blueprint for the high-quality joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative.
In order to help our friends from all over the world better understand the historical origins, the concept and vision, the implementation path, the practical achievements and the global significance of the Initiative, last week, the Chinese government issued a white paper titled “The Belt and Road Initiative: A Key Pillar of the Global Community of Shared Future.” This document provides a comprehensive introduction to the many achievements attained over the decade that has passed since the proposal of the Initiative, clarifying China's determination and actions in promoting the high-quality development of the joint construction of the Initiative, and explaining how our country works together with others in building a community with a shared future for mankind. I would like to take this opportunity to make a key introduction, discuss with you the results of the China-Greece cooperation in the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative, and address any questions you may have.
1. The Global Significance of the Belt and Road Initiative: Born in China - Belonging to the World
Originating from the ancient Silk Road more than 2,000 years ago, the Belt and Road Initiative upholds and promotes the Silk Road spirit and its core principles, that is, peaceful cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning, and mutual benefit. It aims at bringing tangible benefits to all participating countries, such as economic growth, improved living standards, and poverty alleviation. Furthermore, it makes positive contributions by promoting the sustainable development of economic globalization, addressing global developmental challenges, upholding multilateralism and multipolarity, and fostering exchanges and mutual learning among different civilizations. It has become a widely acclaimed international public good and a platform for international cooperation.
Some media claimed that BRI is the Trojan horse of China to attain its geopolitical influence. Such claims are entirely false and completely absurd. The future of BRI is not like the mystery of the Sphinx, but a predictable perspective. It contributes to the development of local economies, the improvement of infrastructure, and the increase of employment, and based on mutually beneficial principles, it achieves win-win results for all. China’s pragmatic cooperation with other countries in port construction and other infrastructure fully adheres to the principles of extensive consultation, joint construction and shared benefits, with the goal being the creation of more opportunities for mutual development. This cooperation is transparent, open, and straightforward. BRI has been regarded as a golden torch by its partners to realize their dreams for good life.
2. The Great Achievements of the Belt and Road Initiative Over the Past Decade
As of the end of June 2023, the Initiative has expanded across the five continents to include 152 partner countries and 32 international organizations, covering more than 65% of the world's land and population. More than 200 cooperation agreements for the joint construction of the Initiative have been signed and over 3,000 projects have been formulated. All these have leveraged nearly one trillion U.S. Dollars of investment, lifting approximately 40 million people out of poverty, and creating 420,000 jobs in the participating countries.
From 2013 to 2022, the total volume of imports and exports between China and the countries of the Initiative reached 19.1 trillion dollars, with an average annual growth of 6.4%. In 2022, the total volume of imports and exports reached 2.9 trillion U.S. dollars, accounting for 45.4% of China's total foreign trade value over the same period, an increase of 6.2% from 2013. According to a World Bank report, by 2030, the Belt and Road Initiative will generate 1.6 trillion U.S. dollars annually for the global economy, accounting for 1.3% of the world’s GDP. The Initiative is also expected to help lift 7.6 million people out of extreme poverty and 32 million people out of moderate poverty in the countries of the Initiative.
The Silk Road Fund established by China and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, also backed by the relevant countries, provide investment and financing support for infrastructure connectivity and sustainable economic and social development in the countries of the Initiative. Together with its partners, China has initiated synergies in tourism, educational exchanges, and exchanges between media and think tanks, promoting people-to-people exchanges, cultural integration and mutual learning between civilizations from different countries. China also works with its partners to continuously promote the construction of the Health Silk Road, the Green Silk Road, the Innovation Silk Road, the Digital Silk Road, and the high-quality development of the Belt and Road Initiative, making greater contributions for the creation of a community with a shared future for mankind.
3. A brief introduction of the achievements of China-Greece cooperation in the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative
China and Greece have a history of over 2,000 years of interaction through the ancient Silk Road. Today, cooperation in the joint building of the Initiative has once again closely connected our ancient civilizations.
The port of Piraeus has become the largest multipurpose port in the Mediterranean and the fourth-largest multipurpose port in Europe. It has also emerged as one of the fastest-growing container ports in the world. Its annual throughput capacity has risen to a record high of 7.2 million TEUs, ranking 26th globally. The Piraeus project has also created more than 3,000 direct and 10,000 indirect jobs in the local communities, contributing directly over 1.4 billion euros to the local economy and boosting Greece's GDP by 0.8%. In addition, the robust growth of the port’s cruise industry has effectively promoted the recovery of the Greek tourism sector, bringing huge economic benefits to the area. As of the end of September, Piraeus port has received 750 cruises and 1.2 million tourists. According to the reports of Athens Stock Exchange, shareholders of PPA received a dividend of 1.05 euro per share in 2022. The China–Europe Land–Sea Express Line that starts from the port of Piraeus has reduced transportation times by at least 7 to 10 days, becoming a third major channel for China-Europe trade, reaching as far as the Central and Eastern European countries, and complementing the traditional sea routes and the China-Europe Railway Express. In 2022, a total of 181,000 TEUs have been carried through this Land-Sea Express Line, increasing 18.4% on a yearly basis.
China-Greece cooperation in green energy projects is flourishing, contributing to the improvement of Greece's energy infrastructure and green development. China Energy Investment’s wind farm project in Thrace generates enough green energy each year to meet the electricity needs of 30,000 Greek households, while reducing carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 160,000 tons annually, which is equivalent to planting 360,000 trees each year. So far, the project has saved a total of 249,400 tons of coal and reduced carbon emissions by approximately 621,800 tons. Since the first phase of State Grid’s Interconnection Project went into operation on Crete, the project has effectively brought an end to diesel and heavy oil-based power generation on the island, resulting in an annual reduction of approximately 100,000 tons of carbon emissions. It is estimated that the project will save residents approximately 150 to 200 million euros per year in electricity costs.
The future of China-Greece cultural exchanges is also very bright. The Center of Greek and Chinese Ancient Civilizations was officially established at the University of Athens in February this year, and President Xi Jinping sent a reply letter to five Greek scholars. The fourth Confucius Institute was inaugurated at the University of West Attica, and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the Academy of Athens signed a Scientific Cooperation Agreement. Several Chinese provinces and cities have already initiated synergies or are in the process of exploring friendly cooperation opportunities with their Greek counterparts.
Some people are wondering that when 2 wars are going on not far away from Europe, why is China still insisting on the convening of BRI Forum? In front of the challenges of traditional security and non-traditional security, we should remain committed to building a global community of shared future, which stresses 5 major characteristics, that is, openness and inclusiveness, equity and justice, harmonious coexistence, diversity and mutual learning, unity and cooperation. The 3rd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation is the right platform to gather strong forces to materialize the above mentioned targets. We believe that the economic globalization and multilateralism are still supposed to be the dominant force of the progress and humanity. The more fluctuated the world be torn by geopolitical conflicts and global challenges, the more enthusiasm and eagerness we need to gather broad consensus so as to jointly create a better future for humanity.