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‘B&R’ to fuel cooperation with South, Southeast Asia

WU YONG | 2017-06-23 | Hits:
(Chinese Social Sciences Today)

Experts attend the fifth China-South and Southeast Asia Think-Tank Forum held from June 12 to 13 in Kunming, Yunnan Province.


Experts and scholars highlighted the role of think tanks in encouraging China’s cooperation with South and Southeast Asia at the fifth China-South and Southeast Asia Think-Tank Forum in Kunming, Yunnan Province, from June 12 to 13.

The forum was co-organized by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) and the People’s Government of Yunnan Province. Its goal is to put into practice the theme “New Opportunities, New Ideas and New Measures to Deepen China’s Pragmatic Cooperation with South and Southeast Asian Countries Under the ‘Belt and Road’ (B&R) Initiative” and to promote the spirit of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

Wang Linggui, deputy executive chairman and secretary-general of the National Institute of Global Strategy at CASS, said the progress made in “B&R” construction has produced new opportunities and room for pragmatic cooperation among the three sides. It’s especially necessary for Yunnan, the bridge to South and Southeast Asia, to establish better mechanisms to enhance exchanges and cooperation among think tanks.

Muniruzzaman, president of the Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies, said all countries along the “B&R” should integrate their development strategies, tapping cooperation potential in all sectors. Industrial capacity cooperation should be driven by infrastructure construction, with a focus on sectors like energy, electricity and transportation. People-to-people and educational exchanges also need improvement.

Singapore is the only developed country in South and Southeast Asia, said Zhou Gang, former Chinese ambassador to Malaysia, Pakistan, Indonesia and India. All the rest are eager to speed up economic development, improve living standards, safeguard regional peace and stability, and further international cooperation.

Zhou said that despite trends of improving cooperation in recent years, obstacles still hamper “B&R” efforts in South and Southeast Asian countries. Such difficulties include outdated infrastructure as well as a lack of capital and talent.

Facing this, he said, consensus should be reached by coordination on policy as a prerequisite for further steps. To spur cooperation, key projects and financial guarantee systems are essential. At the same time, a mechanism for addressing security challenges and achieving security cooperation should be established to ensure the safety and security of major projects and personnel.

Jin Xin, dean of the China Center for Contemporary World Studies of International Department, Central Committee of the CPC, said that think tanks should supply more effective solutions to difficulties in “B&R” cooperation. As the plans of Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor, China-Indochina Peninsular Economic Corridor, and Lancang-Mekong cooperation roadmap become clearer, issues also emerge. Think tanks should consult with governments, enterprises and social organizations, focus on reality, and provide a list of realistic issues. This will inform targeted research with effective and valuable output.

What’s more, he added, we also need to promote people-to-people communication starting from exchanges among think tanks. The “B&R” construction not only involves infrastructure but also small yet efficient asset-light projects, like health care, environmental protection and scientific exchange.


Wu Yong is a reporter at the Chinese Social Sciences Today.