Abu Dhabi — Chinese President Xi Jinping has said that despite China being the initiator and propeller of the Belt and Road Initiative, however, it is not his country’s business alone. “It should also welcome other countries to board China’s express train of development, and help them realise their own development objectives,” he added.

“We should pay greater attention to the interests of other countries while pursuing our own,” he said. “Our enterprises must give greater importance to their good reputation in their going-global activities, while seeking their investment returns. They must abide by laws of the recipient countries, and shoulder more social responsibilities.”

In the book, ‘Xi Jinping: The Governance of China’ — a collection of the President’s important speeches and written works — a complete chapter highlights the Belt and Road Initiative, in which the UAE is a key player and a strong supporter. Emirates News Agency (WAM) received a copy of the book on the occasion of President Xi’s historic visit to the UAE today.

The Chinese President said that at present more than 100 countries and international organisations had joined the initiative whose objective is to build a global transport and trade link. “The UN and other international organisations have positively responded to the initiative. There has been further financial cooperation involving the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the Silk Road Fund and others.”

Last year, Abu Dhabi Ports signed a 50-year Mustaha (Usufruct) agreement with the Jiangsu Provincial Overseas Cooperation and Investment Company (Jocic), in the free trade zone of Khalifa Industrial Zone of Abu Dhabi (Kizad).

Jocic signed lease contracts worth Dh1.1 billion in total with five Chinese firms; Hanergy Thin Film Power Group, Jiangsu Fantai Mining Development Group Co Ltd, Xuzhou Jianghe Wood Co, Jiangsu Jinzi Environmental Technology Co and Guangzheng Group. The deal is expected to provide 1,400 job opportunities and strengthen the region’s bonds with the Silk Road Initiative.

Since the 2015 visit made by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to China and the consequent signing of strategic agreements between the two countries, UAE’s trade with China witnessed a surge to $70 million annually. The UAE also plays a vital role as a distribution point for 60 per cent of Chinese exports to the region.

President Xi also said that China welcomes others on board its ‘express train of development’. “All other countries and international organisations are welcome to join the initiative. We will encourage Chinese enterprises to invest in other countries along the route, which are also welcome to invest in China,” he added.

He noted that close people-to-people ties should foster the Silk Road spirit, and promote cultural exchange and mutual learning. According to Xi, the Belt and Road Initiative is a project of the century and will benefit people across the world. “The initiative is not meant to reinvent the wheel. Rather, it aims to leverage the comparative strengths of the countries involved and coordinate their development strategies,” he said.

Total trade volume between China and other Belt and Road countries has exceeded $5 trillion, as Chinese firms have built 75 overseas economic and trade cooperation zones in the region, with a total investment of about $25.5 billion and creating nearly 220,000 local jobs, according to a report published on the Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua in June 2018.

Each year, the national government of China provides 10,000 scholarships to participating countries of the Belt and Road Initiative, and its local governments have also set up special Silk Road scholarships to encourage international cultural and educational exchange. A series of people-to-people exchange projects such as the Silk Road culture year and tourism year, art festivals, film and TV projects, seminars and think-tank dialogues have been introduced and conducted. “These interactions and exchanges have brought our peoples increasingly closer,” President Xi noted.

The president added that the Belt and Road should be built into a road of peace. “The ancient Silk Road thrived in times of peace, and declined in times of war. Without a peaceful and stable environment, it would be impossible to pursue the Belt and Road Initiative.”