By Md. Enamul Hassan
Many pieces are often seen to surface in the global press over the China-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Though most of them spread negativity about the trillion-dollar initiative, the BRI has walked a long way to making positive contributions to many countries since its inception in 2013.
The BRI has so far gained ground across Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, West Asia, North Africa, and Central and Eastern Europe. The combined land territories of those regions account for more than one-third of the world total, a population of around 60 percent, and a GDP of 32 percent, which speaks volumes of its feats.
The initiative also boosts international cooperation on education. China had signed agreements with many other BRI countries on mutual recognition of academic certificates and degrees in higher education, and over 60 Chinese universities had launched academic programs in partnership with local institutions in BRI countries.
If we break down the outcomes of the initiative, we can find that large projects under the BRI have been greatly boosting the economy and improving local people’s livelihoods in many countries all over the world.
Pakistan’s Ambassador to China Moinul Haque said the BRI has transformed Pakistan’s economic landscape. He mentioned that BRI projects in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor have created around 70,000 jobs in Pakistan. BRI projects have benefited Pakistanis through job creation, improved livelihoods, eradicating poverty, and upgrading of remote areas.
Large BRI projects in Cambodia, including the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone, hydropower plants, Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway, new Siem Reap International Airport, Morodok Techo National Stadium, roads and bridges, hospitals, and rural water supply, have similarly generated more than 3,000 jobs for Cambodians during their constructions.
According to a report by the Ministry of Commerce of Cambodia, the BRI projects will help Cambodia to achieve its ambitious goal of becoming an upper-middle-income country by 2030 and a high-income country in 2050. They will be the major contributors to Cambodia’s economic growth in the post-pandemic era too.
Some infrastructure projects are also being implemented in Bangladesh in collaboration with China. Several have already been implemented and the people of Bangladesh are reaping the dividends of those projects. The Bangladesh Power System Upgrade and Expansion Project, a $165 million power project, is a vivid example of how the BRI is playing a role in improving the livelihood of the people of the country. This project has benefited more than seven million Bangladeshis by helping provide electricity connections to over 2.5 million rural people.
Besides, China is now implementing $10 billion worth of infrastructure projects in Bangladesh including the Chinese Economic and Industrial Zone, and Payra Power Plant. Every project has created a huge number of jobs, bringing about enormous socio-economic development in Bangladesh.
The BRI has also brought good news to Bangladeshi students who aspire to receive a quality education in China. Under the initiative, China has increased its scholarship number to 8,000 for Bangladesh. This great opportunity has been contributing to increasing remittance inflows to Bangladesh, which is the country’s second-largest source of foreign currency earnings, by producing skilled human resources.
The China-backed Karnaphuli Multi-Channel Tunnel Project is now underway and scheduled to be finished at the end of the ongoing year. Once completed, the tunnel will connect the port city of Chittagong to the far side of the Karnaphuli River, the site of a new Chinese economic zone. It will shorten travel time from four hours to just twenty minutes.
The Special Chinese Economic Zone, another BRI project in the south of Bangladesh, will have the capacity to house 150-200 industrial units and will focus on a range of different industrial sectors, including shipbuilding, pharmaceuticals, electronics, agro-business, IT, chemicals, power, and textiles. The 750-acre economic zone is set to create more than 75,000 jobs, a boon to the huge number of unemployed youths in Bangladesh.
The Padma Bridge rail link, upon fruition, will cut the travel time from Dhaka to Kolkata, the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal, from nine hours to about four. The bridge will ease pressure on the country’s premier seaport in Chittagong as it will bolster the second largest Mongla seaport in Bagerhat.
Apart from them, a great number of BRI projects are immensely contributing to the socio-economic development of many countries. They are directly uplifting the livelihoods of millions of people all over the world, paving the way for the establishment of their basic human rights.
(Md. Enamul Hassan is a journalist fromBangladesh Post. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Huanqiu.com.)