'Belt and Road' initiative misunderstood says new book

An English translation of "The Belt and Road Initiative: What will China Offer the World in Its Rise" was launched by China International Publishing Group (CIPG) and New World Press at the London Book Fair on April 12.

The work is a definitive interpretation of the "Belt and Road" initiative by Professor Wang Yiwei. In the book, Professor Wang lays out how the initiative embodies the "inherent logic of China's all round opening up."

British academics and Chinese representatives came together with Wang to discuss and celebrate this book, which challenges Western perceptions of this huge initiative.

The "Belt and Road" initiative is China's grand plan for creating economic growth throughout the world by creating connectivity, initially through infrastructure programs that will connect Asia, Africa, and Europe. It is loosely based on the idea of the original Silk Road that was once the corridor of trade from China, through the Middle East, and into Europe.

It might be said that there is widespread misunderstanding about the "Belt and Road" initiative in the West, but this book works to dispel these notions.

At the book launch, sociologist and globalization specialist Martin Albrow said that this book will challenge "deep rooted… prejudices about China." Albrow also talked of the book's potential in changing international relations.

"Professor Wang suggests to sceptical Europeans that [the "Belt and Road" initiative] can reconcile Europe with Russia and make it both a Eurasian and Atlantic power," Mr. Albrow told the audience.

Speaking at the event, Counsellor Minister Xiang Xiaowei from the Chinese Embassy to the UK said he is confident about the effect the English edition of the book will have. "Many people around the world, including readers in the UK, will further understand the vision," Xiang told the audience.

Dr Martin Jacques, a specialist in Asian affairs and visiting professor at Renmin University, and published author, said that the book is an "important" and "impressive" piece of work, before leading a conversation with Professor Wang.

During the conversation, Professor Wang was critical of the term "globalization," and said that what we have at the moment is not truly globalization. the "Belt and Road" initiative might change this.

"I think traditional globalization is not true globalization," Professor Wang said, "It is just maritime globalization."

Stating data from the World Bank, Wang said that a large percentage of global GDP is generated on the coast and within 100 kilometers of the sea. This type of globalization is not "inclusive," according to Wang. By creating connectivity, the "Belt and Road" initiative may be able to change globalization from a maritime phenomenon to a global one, which can be seen on land as well as at sea.

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