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Belt and Road Initiative: A Road of Innovation for the New Era


By Eleni-Vasiliki Bampaliouta

Innovation is the primary force in driving development. President Xi Jinping stressed that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is innovative by nature and its success needs to be powered by innovation. For 10 years, guided by innovative ideas, Belt and Road cooperation has pooled resources of innovation from various parties, injecting strong impetus into the development of partner countries and bringing tangible benefits to the people. A road of innovation for the new era is connecting China to the world.

This is a road that inspires innovative ideas for cooperation. Rooted in the spirit of harmony, inclusiveness, and cooperation of the ancient Silk Road, the BRI has put forward the innovative principle of extensive consultation and joint contribution for shared benefit, and abandoned the zero-sum mentality featured in the donors-dominated, Western-led model of international cooperation, thus creating a new vision for international cooperation. Just as the British commentator Martin Jacques observed, the BRI is completely novel and, in terms of its global impact, a bold and new project unprecedented in its character and conception.

This is a road that brings together resources of innovation. In the past decade, Belt and Road cooperation has spurred greater innovation in science and technology. From promoting people-to-people exchanges in science and technology to jointly building laboratories, from enhancing cooperation on science and technology parks to building technology transfer centers, the vision for a community of innovation featuring shared development philosophies, unimpeded flow of production factors, networked technology facilities, connected innovation chains and vibrant people-to-people exchanges is turning into reality.

At the water-conserving irrigation laboratory jointly built by China and Egypt, water can be channeled to the roots of crops through underground seeping pipes with just a tap on the phone. This advanced water-saving irrigation system from China provides an effective solution to the problems of high temperature, drought and water shortage that plague Egypt’s agricultural development. Belt and Road cooperation is also instrumental in integrating resources of innovation from all parties.

China and Portugal are located by the Pacific and the Atlantic respectively, with different climates and geographical conditions, yet greater cooperation on innovation including the Joint International Research Laboratory of Marine Biology inaugurated in 2017 and the Belt and Road Joint Laboratory on Space and Sea Technology Advanced Research launched in 2021 not only enables information sharing between the two countries, but also promotes complementarity in scientific research capabilities, thus producing a multiplying effect.

This is a road that delivers the benefits of scientific and technological innovation to the people. Through Belt and Road cooperation, China has not only integrated itself into the global scientific and technological innovation network, but also helped spread the fruits of innovation to more countries and peoples. China has carried out extensive cooperation with partner countries in smart cities, mobile payment, cross-border e-commerce and other areas of digital economy, and supported them in establishing and improving technology markets. China has set up the Technology Transfer South-South Cooperation Center with the United Nations Development Program, promoted cooperation among higher education institutions and research institutes, and helped partner countries cultivate future innovators. As co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Bill Gates said, China has an incredible mix of expertise and experience, as well as investment in scientific and technological innovation, and it will be able to make unique contributions to sharing its technologies and its lessons.

This year, China will host the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. Going ahead, China will continue to promote Belt and Road cooperation on innovation, fully tap the potential of innovation, open up broader space for win-win cooperation, and provide more shared treasures for people worldwide to achieve common development and prosperity.

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