Morgunblaðið Publishes A Signed Article by Ambassador Jin Zhijian Entitled The Belt and Road Initiative Brings New Opportunities for China-Iceland Cooperation

On May 16th 2019, the famous Icelandic newspaper Morgunblaðið published a signed article by Ambassador Jin Zhijian entitled The Belt and Road Initiative Brings New Opportunities for China-Iceland Cooperation. In the article, Ambassador Jin introduced the background and latest development of the Belt and Road Initiative, and the achievements of The Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, as well as the opportunities for China-Iceland cooperation in six major fields as connectivity, business and trade, green development, innovation industries, third-party market and people-to-people exchanges. The full text is as follows:

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), namely the general term for Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, were announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his respective visits to Kazakhstan and Indonesia in September and October of 2013. The BRI upholds the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution, and shared benefits. It focuses on policy coordination, infrastructure connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration, and closer people-to-people ties. It pursues open, green and clean development. The BRI aims to enhance connectivity and practical cooperation, jointly meeting various challenges and risks confronting mankind and delivering win-win outcomes and common development. Since its inception over five years ago, the BRI has received strong endorsement and warm support of the international community, and has become a popular international public product. To date China has signed BRI cooperation agreements with 127 countries and 29 international organizations. The trade volume between China and countries joining the BRI has exceeded 6 trillion US dollars, with investment of more than 80 billion US dollars. Over 300,000 jobs and more than 2 billion US dollars of taxes have been created for the host countries. The Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) was held in Beijing on 25-27 April this year. Some 38 heads of state or government, UN Secretary- General and IMF Chief, together with over 6,000 guests from more than 150 countries and over 90 international organizations attended the forum. A total of 283 items of practical outcomes were achieved and cooperation agreements worth more than 64 billion US dollars were signed during the forum, which proves to be a total success.

The BRI comes from China but its achievements are for the world to share. Plenty of facts have proved that the BRI is not a “debt trap”, but an “economic pie”, it is not a“geopolitical tool”, but a great opportunity for shared development. More and more European countries have joined BRI, by far China has signed BRI agreements with 17 EU countries including Italy, Luxembourg, Greece, Hungary and Portugal. The cooperation between China and Europe under the framework of BRI is getting deeper and achieving fruitful results.

I am glad to see that BRI has won more and more recognition from all walks of life in Iceland. Iceland is one of the founding members of Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The Icelandic government remains open to the signing of MOU on cooperation under the BRI with China. People from business circle and other fields have already shown great interest in joining BRI. I fully believe that BRI could serve as a new platform and provide new opportunities for China-Iceland cooperation on the following main aspects:

Firstly, to enhance the connectivity between China and Iceland. With the great policy support of BRI and financial platforms as AIIB and Silk Road Fund, China and Iceland can work together to build a connectivity network of land, maritime, air and cyberspace featuring tourism infrastructure, Polar Silk Road shipping routes, direct flight and 5G communication network, which will comprehensively promote bilateral cooperation in all mentioned fields.

Secondly, to deepen practical cooperation in business and trade between China and Iceland. China has contributed 30% of the world's economic growth for many years, and the vast market saw increasing need for commodity imports including products from Iceland. With better living standard, more and more Chinese choose to travel abroad. Iceland has seen increasing number of Chinese tourists every year, bringing Iceland with higher volume of trade in service. Meanwhile, the BRI could give more play to the Free Trade Agreement between our two countries, stimulating growth of bilateral trade in goods and service, promoting the e-commerce cooperation and expanding mutual investment.

Thirdly, to promote green development. China stands firmly behind its commitment to the Paris Agreement and adheres to green development. Building a green silk road has become an important means to implement the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. China and Iceland could work together on BRI platform to address issues like climate change, ocean and Arctic environmental protection and renewable energy utilization.

Fourthly, to promote cooperation in innovation industries. BRI cooperation keeps up with the trend of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and we could jointly seize opportunities created by digital, networked and smart development by building the Digital Silk Road and the Innovation Silk Road. China and Iceland can also deepen cooperation in smart manufacturing, digital economy and intellectual property protection, explore new technologies and new forms and models of business, and promote cooperation in big data, cloud computing and smart city construction.

Fifthly, to jointly explore third-party markets. As fast growth in BRI countries has generated huge market demands for international industrial cooperation, China has signed third-party market cooperation agreements with France, Italy, Spain, Japan, and Portugal. In this regard, the advanced geothermal energy technology of Iceland will definitely enjoy a broader platform when combined with the capital and market of BRI countries.

Sixthly, to deepen people-to-people exchanges between the two countries. BRI could provide more chances of cultural exchanges in various contents and formats. The Silk Road Program of the Chinese Government Scholarship could expand the scale of exchanged students between China and Iceland. The Silk Road NGO Cooperation Network could facilitate more exchanges of culture groups and enhance friendship between the two peoples.

It is highly expected that Iceland can become a BRI family member as soon as possible. China is willing to work together with Iceland to seize the new opportunities of development and jointly create a brighter future for China- Iceland relations.

Jin Zhijian

Chinese Ambassador to Iceland