The Belt and Road Institute (BRIX) Chairman, Stephen Brawer, and Vice-Chairman, Hussein Askary visited China recently to participate in the Third Belt and Road Forum in Beijing and other important activities in other provinces related to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), with special focus on EU-China relations.
This report (See original in Chinese) was published by the Guangdong Institute of International Strategies (GIIS) of the Guangdong University of Foreign Studies (GDUFS). The BRIX signed a cooperation memorandum of understanding in May this year for joint research and other activities regarding the BRI and China-Europe mutual understanding and cooperation.
On October 22, the International Symposium on Mutual Learning and High-quality Development of China-Europe Civilizations was held in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province. With the theme of “China-Europe Belt and Road Cooperation: Achievements and Prospects”, the conference was co-sponsored by the Guangdong Institute of International Strategies (GIIS), the Swedish Belt and Road Institute (BRIX), the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Collaborative Innovation Center, and the Center for European Studies. The participants had an intensive discussion on the great achievements, international contributions and future prospects of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) on its 10th anniversary and put forward positive suggestions for further deepening civilizational exchanges and cooperation between China and the EU from different perspectives such as politics, economy, society and people-to-people relations.
Professor Sui Guangjun, former President of the GDUFS and Dean of the GIIS, said in his opening speech that China and the Europe have been closely connected through the Silk Road since ancient times, and there are no geopolitical contradictions or major conflicts of interest between the two sides, and they have extensive common interests in global governance, climate change, and cybersecurity. China and the EU can further deepen cross-border connectivity in transport, energy, digitalization, jointly build a Digital Silk Road and a Green Silk Road, and unleash cooperation dividends in third-party market cooperation.
Professor Sui Guangjun
In his speech, Stephen Brawer, President of the Swedish Belt and Road Institute (BRIX), emphasized the importance of China-EU cooperation and hoped to improve global development through cooperation, which is also the original intention of the BRI. In the future, China and Europe should strengthen connectivity, strengthen cooperation, abandon confrontation, and achieve win-win cooperation. During the discussion, he further pointed out that the gap in Europe’s perception of Chinese civilization has widened the distance between China and the West to a certain extent.
In her closing remarks, Professor Li Qing, Executive Director of the GIIS, called on China and the EU to rationally analyse and actively respond to various challenges such as economic recession, geopolitical conflicts and social divisions, and strengthen mutual understanding, communication and cooperation in the context of increasingly fragmented global governance. Scholars should think about how to better tell China’s story to the world, and hope that China and the EU can carry out more joint research and activities in the future, jointly promote understanding and cooperation between countries around the world, and contribute to global peace and development.
Professor Li Qing
At the opening ceremony of the seminar, Sui Guangjun presented Stephen Brawer with a letter of appointment as a distinguished research fellow of the GIIS. The opening ceremony of the seminar was presided over by Professor Li Qing, Executive Dean of the Guangdong Institute of International and Strategic Studies.
Professor Sui Presents Letter of Appointment to Stephen Brawer as Distinguished Research Fellow of the GIIS
In his presentation, Dr. Li Xing, a professor at Aalborg University in the Kingdom of Denmark and a distinguished professor at the GIIS, discussed in detail the complex attitudes of Western countries towards China, pointing out that some European countries regard China as a systemic adversary, and this view is in stark contrast to the deepening economic cooperation between China and European countries, and the current “China syndrome” in Western countries hinders their further cooperation with China. He stressed that the Belt and Road Initiative is based on practical issues rather than values, that its strategy is cost-effective, and that it will continue to promote the development of a multipolar global order, especially in the Global South.
Professor Li Xing
Professor Lin Hongyu, Vice President of Huaqiao University, reviewed the ten-year development process of the Belt and Road Initiative, and pointed out that the BRI plays an important role in checking, balancing, containing and delaying the trend of de-globalization, and promotes the world to remain open, inclusive and compatible through institutional cooperation, which is a truly public service, non-exclusive and non-competitive international public good. He predicted that in the construction of the BRI in the next decade, the spirit of “extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits”, peaceful development and win-win cooperation will be more emphasized, and it will play a more important role in addressing global development, climate change, energy crisis, refugee issues and regional conflicts.
Professor Lin Hongyu
Professor Zeng Jinghan, Dean of the Belt and Road Research Institute at Lancaster University, analysed the impact of China-UK relations on the Belt and Road Initiative, and pointed out that the change in the UK’s attitude towards the Belt and Road Initiative is closely related to its domestic political and economic situation. Changes in the UK’s China policy are not based solely on a single economic or security issue, but involve trade-offs and competition across multiple sectors. He pointed out that the BRI is expansive and flexible, whether it is infrastructure construction, digital economy or artificial intelligence development, which will have an important impact on global development, and countries should actively explore ways to connect, exchange and interact with China.
Professor Zeng Jinghan
Professor Zhao Chen, director of the European International Relations Office of the Institute of European Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), pointed out that although the opening of the China-Europe Railway Express has demonstrated the actual results of China-EU cooperation, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Brexit, Sino-US competition and other events have brought new challenges to the relations between the two sides, and there is instability and imbalance in China-EU relations at this stage. He stressed that China and the EU should avoid vicious competition or enter a new Cold War state, and that frank dialogue, consultation and negotiation are the key to resolving existing problems, and that the two sides should enhance mutual trust, narrow differences through mutual visits and cooperation, and find consensus for the long-term development of both sides.
Professor Zhao Chen
Hussein Askary, Vice President of the Swedish Belt and Road Institute, pointed out that in order to promote cooperation between China and the EU, the two sides must overcome differences in their perception of key concepts such as “green development” and “sustainable development”. “Sustainable development” in China means that high-quality technological development goes hand in hand with industrialization, while Europe is cautious about the Belt and Road Initiative and Africa’s industrialization process, as it focuses more on environmental sustainability and relies more on financial investment than infrastructure for economic development. He suggested that the two sides should look for more points of cooperation in the fields of economic development, nuclear energy, and space, and work with countries in Africa and Asia to promote infrastructure projects, and should also pay more attention to practical development within the global financial system to promote understanding and trust among peoples.
Chen Hanxi, a professor at the School of International Relations at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies and a senior researcher at the GIIS, analysed the impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict on China-EU relations, pointing out that the main obstacle to the development of China-EU relations is the lack of political mutual trust, and this strategic mutual suspicion has affected the overall development of bilateral relations. He pointed out that there are obvious differences between China and EU countries over the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and he expects China and the EU to reduce their differences and find more opportunities for cooperation.
Professor Chen Hanxi
Zhang Liwen, Ph.D. of Columbia University, former project leader of the Security Council Charter Research Division and the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the Political Department of the United Nations Headquarters in New York, and Yunshan Chair Professor, elaborated on the essence of the “Belt and Road” initiative focusing on common development, and believed that the “Belt and Road” provides a new global development concept for the international community, which focuses on the problem itself rather than ideology or military alliances, highlighting the new paradigm of China’s participation in global development. She stressed that the core of the Belt and Road Initiative is to promote dialogue and communication on an equal footing, eliminate misunderstandings, and strengthen mutual trust through cultural exchanges, so as to promote the effective resolution of international issues.
Professor Zhang Liwen
Yan Shuliang, an assistant professor at the School of Social Sciences at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (Shenzhen), believes that the Belt and Road Initiative not only demonstrates China’s global vision and vision of promoting common development, but also reflects the characteristics of China’s railway openness, technological innovation and key special strategies for manufacturing. The success of major projects such as the China-Laos Railway, the Tanzania-Zambia Railway and the China-Europe Railway Express has not only strengthened China’s ties with relevant countries, but also brought economic and employment opportunities to the local communities, and stabilized the freight transportation supply chain. The Belt and Road Initiative has vigorously promoted the process of international standardization of China’s railways, and promoted a win-win situation of competition and cooperation between China and other countries.
Dr. Yan Shuliang
Lai Xueyi, Ph.D. in International Relations at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand and associate professor at the GIIS, pointed out that the achievements of the Belt and Road Initiative are not limited to infrastructure construction, but also make cutting-edge progress in many fields. She believes that the “Belt and Road” has enabled China to establish closer ties and exchanges with countries along the Belt and Road, and even more countries around the world, creating a new diplomatic situation, stressing that Europe cannot avoid the growing ties with China and should work together to create a better future.
Wang Hao, Ph.D. in Economics from Brunel University in London, Associate Professor at the School of Economics and Trade at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, and Yunshan Young Scholar, agreed that China and the EU should strengthen communication to bridge cognitive differences, reduce estrangement and conflict in values, and lay a solid foundation for future friendly cooperation and exchanges between China and the EU. The two sides should promote the development of bilateral relations by enhancing mutual trust and actively seeking points of convergence of interests.
Professor Zhong Zuchang, Vice President of the GIIS (Maritime Silk Road Research Institute), pointed out in his concluding remarks that the current international situation is in a new period of turbulence and change, and the competition between major powers is becoming increasingly fierce. There is no fundamental conflict of interest between China and the EU, and the two sides have reached consensus on many issues, especially multilateralism, upholding international rules, and global governance. This conference has built an efficient and pragmatic bridge for exchanges and cooperation between Chinese and European scholars, and we look forward to more joint research projects and more contributions to the continuous deepening and development of China-EU relations. The first phase of expert keynote speeches was presided over by Professor Han Yonghui, Vice President of Guangdong Institute of International and Strategic Studies (Maritime Silk Road Research Institute). The second phase of expert keynote speeches was presided over by Professor Cheng Yonglin, Deputy Director of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Collaborative Innovation Center.
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