The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) is being held in Beijing on May 14-15. President Xi Jinping attended the opening ceremony and chair the leaders' round-table. Upon the invitation of President Xi, 29 heads of state and government, among them five leaders from G20 countries, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni of Italy, President Joko Widodo of Indonesia and President Mauricio Macri of Argentina, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, around 1,500 delegates from over 130 countries, about 70 international organizations and more than 4,000 journalists will participate in the event.
Since the Belt and Road initiative was put forward by President Xi in 2013, the past three years have witnessed the launching, expansion, faster-than-expected progress and fruitful outcomes. This Chinese initiative is delivering benefits to the whole world. More than 100 countries and international organizations have joined this initiative, among which more than 40 have signed cooperation agreements with China, reaching a broad international consensus on the Belt and Road initiative.
The U.N. General Assembly, the U.N. Security Council, (U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific) UNESCAP, (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) APEC, (Asia–Europe Meeting) ASEM and the (Greater Mekong Subregion) GMS have all incorporated or reflected Belt and Road cooperation in their relevant resolutions and documents.
A number of important early harvests have been made. The economic corridor development is making steady progress. An interconnected infrastructure network is taking shape. Trade and investment has increased significantly. Key project cooperation is underway. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Silk Road Fund have provided firm support to financial cooperation. China Railway Express trains to Europe have been operating on the vast Eurasian continent, loaded with goods and matching the market needs of countries along the route. The trains have also set up a bridge of communication and friendship between peoples along the route and become a welcome sight along the Belt and Road.
The joint development of the Belt and Road Initiative is an important channel to step up international cooperation, a cause embraced and advanced by all parties. It is generating new development opportunities to make people's lives better. On the other hand, the global economy is yet to emerge from the profound impact of the international financial crisis. The recovery is fragile and slow, and the foundation for growth still shaky. There is rising protectionism, louder voices against globalization and mounting tensions between openness, change and economic integration. To explore ways to address problems facing global and regional economy, create fresh energy for pursuing interconnected development and make the Belt and Road initiative deliver greater benefits to the people of all countries, President Xi announced at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos on Jan. 17 that in May, China will host the BRF in Beijing to discuss ways to boost cooperation, build cooperation platforms and share cooperation outcomes.
The theme of the BRF is, "Strengthening International Cooperation and Co-building the Belt and Road for Win-win Development." The main events of the forum include an opening ceremony, a leaders' roundtable summit and a high-level conference. The opening ceremony will be held on the morning of May 14, followed by the high-level conference. The leaders' roundtable summit will be held on May 15.
State Councilor Yang Jiechi, the top Chinese official in charge of foreign affairs, said, "China hopes to achieve the following objectives at the BRF: first, thoroughly review the progress of the initiative, showcase important early harvest outcomes, further build consensus for cooperation and sustain the momentum of cooperation; second, discuss major cooperation measures going forward, facilitate greater synergy of development strategies, deepen partnership and work for interconnected development; third, while promoting China's economic and social development and structural adjustment, work to advance international cooperation for win-win outcomes."
The BRF has been the highest level of international conference held by China since the Initiative put forward by President Xi in 2013. It will be a milestone on which to build on past achievements and open up the Future of the Belt and Road Initiative and will definitely speed up the progress of the initiative.
Istanbul is an important point of connection between the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. Since the establishment of strategic partnership between Turkey and China in 2010, Sino-Turkey political mutual trust and high-level exchanges have increased. Since 2015, President Xi and President Erdoğan have had three face-to-face meetings, during which they exchanged in-depth views on bilateral cooperation and reached important consensus on the development of bilateral relations.
Economic and trade cooperation between the two countries has been developing steadily. In 2016, the total import and export values of trade between our two countries amounted to $27.77 billion, an increase of 1.8 percent compared with 2015. China is the second largest trading partner and the largest source of imports for Turkey. Chinese enterprises grow fast in Istanbul; more than 60 Chinese enterprises, including the Industrial and Commercial Bank, the Power Construction Corporation of China and COSCO Shipping, are doing business in this city. Since 2014, the inauguration of a high-speed railway that links the capital of Ankara to Istanbul, the acquisition of Tekstilbank by the ICBC, the acquisition of the Kumport Terminal in Istanbul by COSCO, CMHI and CIC Capital and the Turkey operations of the Bank of China opening soon have made great contributions to local development and the implementation of the Belt and Road initiative.
I have full confidence that President Erdoğan's participation in the BRF will further promote the strategic partnership between Turkey and China and will inject positive influence into the development of local cooperation between our two countries.
There is a U.N. saying that goes, "The train has left the station, and it runs very fast." China is on our express train to realize the Chinese Dream of the Great Rejuvenation of the Chinese Nation. We are willing to provide opportunity and space of common development for countries participating in the Belt and Road initiative, including Turkey, and they are welcome to take a ride on the train. The BRF will be a new station for China's train of development, welcome on board, Istanbul.
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