By Liu Jianxi
New Zealand became the first Western developed country to ink a cooperation deal with China on the One Belt and One Road initiative Monday. “We have been interested in this initiative since President Xi Jinping first announced it,” New Zealand Ambassador to China John McKinnon said earlier in an interview. Wellington has long been active in cooperating with Beijing – the first Western developed country to recognize China’s full market-economy status, to join the China-initiated Asian Infrastructural Investment Bank as a founding member, and to sign and implement a bilateral free trade agreement with China.
Many Western countries are suspicious of China’s Belt and Road initiative. Recently, Australia rejected aligning its state infrastructure fund with the initiative over concerns the deal may damage its ties with the US. Some European scholars believe the Belt and Road initiative is a tool by China to rewrite the global economic rules. “The initiative attempts to change the rules organizing the global economy, primarily by granting China a set of tools with which it can reorder global value chains,” an article from Carnegie Europe claimed.
These concerns are unnecessary. China advocates peace and has no intention to dominate the world. The Belt and Road initiative will aid connectivity, bring more investments to and boost economic development in countries along the route. It is a mutually beneficial initiative.
In addition, China is the world’s second-largest economy and largest trading nation, with its contribution to the world economy remaining at around 30 percent. The old economic orders need to be adjusted. In this context, China’s attempt to use a new approach, for instance, the Belt and Road initiative, to promote the global economy conforms to the interests of both developed and developing economies. China is not subverting, but trying to improve the old economic and trade system. Cooperation on the Belt and Road initiative is a good way to deepen mutual trust between China and developed countries.
The West should overcome their prejudices against China. At present, a breakthrough is seen in Eastern Europe-China cooperation. Hungary has become the first European country to sign a memorandum of understanding for the Belt and Road initiative. China and the EU are exploring cooperation between the initiative and the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s investment plan. China should put more efforts to explain the Belt and Road initiative to the West, and attract them to join the initiative by the cooperation on relevant infrastructural plans.