China’s Belt and Road Initiative to get a hi-tech boost
Chinese Vice-Premier He Lifeng calls for greater investments in big data, AI, e-commerce and new energy.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative to get a hi-tech boost
The Economics of Geography

China’s Belt and Road Initiative to get a hi-tech boost

Photo: AFP/NurPhoto
Eurasia 18/10/2023 21:00

China will prioritise hi-tech and new energy in its plans for the Belt and Road Initiative, sectors it views as critical to powering domestic growth over the long run and consolidating its footing in the global supply chain.

Addressing several hundred business representatives from 82 countries and regions, at a conference in Beijing, Vice-Premier He Lifeng set forth the core sectors for the belt and road strategy’s second decade at the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation which marks the 10-year anniversary of President Xi Jinping’s flagship outbound investment plan, South China Morning Post reported.

“The frenetic rise and growth of the digital economy, smart manufacturing, and green economy represents the future of the world economy. Cooperation between China and [belt and road] countries in these fields promises a wealth of opportunities,” said He, whose remit includes trade and foreign economic cooperation.

“We encourage companies from all countries to focus on big data, artificial intelligence, e-commerce and new energy, swap ideas and align projects and investments to make the [belt and road plan] smarter, greener and healthier in its next decade to benefit all peoples,” He added.

He also stressed in his keynote speech that financing and debts must be “sustainable” in the next decade.

The comments aligned with Beijing’s efforts to counter the challenges of the heightened US-led tech containment on China’s access to advanced technology and the West’s moves to diversify supply chains away from China.

CEO Conference,marking 10th anniversary of joint construction of #BRI & serving as opening event of #BRF, holds great importance in promoting global devlpmnt & prosperity ,#Chinese V. Premier He Lifeng.Over 1,000 businessmen from different countries participated in this event

— Global Diplomacy Lense (@DiplomacyLense) October 17, 2023
Zhang Yuzhuo, director of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, emphasised the need to rework the supply chains of China and belt and road countries for greater synergy and to step up exchanges in talent, technologies and standards to complement one another.

Looking ahead, Zhang also said China’s state-owned enterprises would take the lead in building a slew of landmark belt and road developments while also creating “quick and nimble, small but beautiful, economical and practical projects”.

Robin Xu, head of Asia industrials and infrastructure research at UBS Securities, said Chinese manufacturers and exporters in some new sectors highlighted by He have already established their edge.

“We expect China’s solar and battery supply chains and construction machinery and auto glass makers to be global market-share leaders. In addition, easier transport connections and lower shipping rates facilitate trade between China and [belt and road] countries,” Xu said, adding that the initiative has “stimulated trade for countries covered by the infrastructure development strategy, over the past decade”.

“The [belt and road plan] will be increasingly important for Chinese corporations from 2023 onwards,” he said.

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