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BRI projects given green emphasis

By Hou Liqiang Source: China Daily Updated: 2021-11-26



Eco-friendly ventures encouraged, echoing pledge in landmark resolution

China will place greater importance on making Belt and Road Initiative cooperation greener and more sustainable, according to a pledge included this month in a landmark resolution on the major achievements and historical experiences of the Communist Party of China over the past century.

It was released after the sixth plenary session of the 19th Central Committee of the CPC.

"Adhering to the principle of achieving shared growth through consultation and collaboration, China has promoted high-quality development of the Belt and Road Initiative," said the resolution, the third of its kind in the Party's 100-year history.

It said China has advanced a large number of cooperation projects with significant implications for fueling economic development and improving people's lives in countries involved in the BRI.

The resolution also highlighted green development as one of China's visions in promoting the initiative, saying the country has worked to build the BRI into "an initiative of peace, prosperity, openness, green development and innovation that brings different civilizations closer".

At a news conference on Nov 12, Han Wenxiu, executive deputy director of the Office of the Central Committee for Financial and Economic Affairs, demonstrated the achievements China has made in promoting the initiative.

As of last year, trade between China and countries involved in the BRI had amounted to $9.2 trillion. Direct investment from China to those countries has reached $140 billion, he said.

The joint endeavor of China and other countries in advancing the initiative has also greatly contributed to the global battle against the COVID-19 pandemic and the recovery of the world economy from the virus, he said.

The operation of the China-Europe Railway Express has continued to grow, he continued, and since the start of last year a total of 25,000 trips have been made, transporting over 2.3 million containers of goods, including 13 million items for pandemic prevention and control.

China has provided 1.7 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine to 110 international organizations and countries, the majority of which are nations involved in the initiative, Han added.

"It has been eight years since President Xi Jinping advanced the Belt and Road Initiative," he said. "The eight years have eloquently proved the BRI as a widely welcomed public good and platform for international cooperation in today's world."

Han vowed that China will focus more on green development as it forges ahead with the BRI.

The country has proactively rolled out cooperation programs on green infrastructure, green energy and green finance under the BRI, he said, citing the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway as an example.

Opened in May 2017, the 480-kilometer line connects Kenya's two largest cities. To avoid collisions with wild animals, many viaducts were built so that wild animals can pass safely. Han said the measure has "effectively" protected local ecosystems.

At a recent United Nations event, China pledged to stop building coal-fired power projects overseas. "This is a major decision on tackling climate change and it demonstrated China's sense of mission," Han said.

China will encourage its enterprises to fulfill their social responsibilities and build more high-standard environmentally friendly projects to "make green a defining feature of Belt and Road cooperation", he said.

China has made significant progress in greening the BRI this year, said Lawrence MacDonald, vice-president for communications at the World Resources Institute, describing Xi's pledge to stop building coal-fired power plants overseas as one of three "milestones".

He said the latest milestone was China's announcement during the United Nations Biodiversity Conference in Kunming, Yunnan province, last month that it would invest 1.5 billion yuan ($233 million) to establish the Kunming Biodiversity Fund.

That marked "solid progress in mainstreaming biodiversity in investment and financing", MacDonald said.

He also lauded the country's publication of the Green Development Guidelines for Overseas Investment and Cooperation earlier this year, as they "encourage Chinese enterprises to adopt international or Chinese green standards where these are stronger than the host country standards".

"The green development guidelines are enabling China to make rapid progress in improving the environmental performance of overseas projects," MacDonald said.