The countries of the world are at different stages of development and have their own different histories and cultures,but the people of all countries share a common desire for peace and development.It is also the goal and constant commitment of the ruler of every country to raise the country's economic and social development level with a view to bringing people out of poverty and improving people's quality of life.Meanwhile,people tend to agree that a country should also accommodate the legitimate concerns of others when seeking its own development and the common development of all countries is the only way for a country to achieve its sustainable development.Since Comrade Xi Jinping was elected the president of China in 2013,he has consistently advocated and made profound interpretations of the idea of building a community of shared future for mankind,which has quickly gained widespread recognition from the international community.The idea itself has also been recorded in a series of UN resolutions.
A desire for common development does not mean the pursuit of a single path,nor does it entails a single model.Instead,it allows diversified and localised development paths that keep abreast with the times.However,all countries also face common obstacles in their development,such as a bottleneck of capital accumulation,inequality in international economic and trade relations,low infrastructure capacity,difficulties in cultivating human capital,and low mobilization capability and inefficient allocation of human resources.Therefore,while acknowledging and encouraging diversified models,all countries around the world,especially the developing countries,are also desperate for a strategic framework for development that not only helps to create the necessary conditions for development,breaking the bottlenecks in key areas and learning from success or failure,but also gives each country an adequate space of choice.The Belt and Road Initiative proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 is such an open framework.
First of all,the basic ideas of the Belt and Road Initiative have been verified by China's development and shared experience during its reform and opening up.China's development course in the past 40 years has provided a successful case in the economic history for making the pie of shared interests even bigger and sharing it among all participators.During the period from 1978 to 2015,China's real total GDP and per capita GDP increased by 29 times and 20 times,respectively,and along with the economic growth,employment expanded continuously,the income of urban and rural residents greatly increased,and the real consumption level increased by 16 times and generally synchronized with labor productivity（which increased by 16.7 times during this period as measured by GDP per worker）.Since the beginning of the twenty-first century,the implementation of the regional development strategies,such as the Great Western Development Strategy and the Strategy for the Rise of Central China,has improved the traffic conditions,infrastructure conditions,support capability of basic public services and human capital levels in the central and western regions.As the investment and development environments have been improved significantly,the ability of the central and western regions to take on manufacturing transfer has improved.
Second,the Belt and Road Initiative adheres to the principle of achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration.The Initiative has deeper historical connotation and inspiration rather than simply borrowing the symbol of the ancient continental and Martime Silk Road.From a greater historical depth,this symbol implies a negation of the traditional Western centralism and lays more emphasis on the role of connectivity and mutual learning between Eastern and Western civilizations in the history of human development.From a broader historical perspective,this symbol also implies how to break the content and model of supply of global public goods centering on the traditional hegemons and pays more attention to the new idea of eradicating global poverty through the participation of all countries.
Third,the Belt and Road Initiative has identified infrastructure construction as the critical constraint that all countries face.In almost all the countries along and involved in the Belt and Road,there are bottleneck problems brought by poor infrastructures in transportation,energy and other areas,which have long restricted investment efficiency and industrial development and prevented many countries from fully enjoying the dividends of economic globalization.China has initiated and took the lead in investing in these countries.With the assistance of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank（AIIB）,BRICS New Development Bank,the Silk Road Fund and other financing institutions,China has cooperated with relevant countries and regions in building infrastructure construction capabilities.As demonstrated by China's Great Western Development Strategy that has already been implemented,it is expected that the Belt and Road Initiative will greatly improve the infrastructure conditions in the developing countries.
Finally,the Belt and Road Initiative provides countries with a sufficient space to explore their own development models that suit their national conditions.To lift itself out of poverty and move towards modernization,a country eventually needs to proceed from its national conditions and rely on its internal determination and efforts to eradicate various existing obstacles in development and institutional environment.If outsiders can do something meaningful（regardless of whether they can be called international public goods）,it is undoubtedly to provide useful knowledge,including successful experiences acquired and lessons drawn from other environments,necessary assistance in software and hardware infrastructure construction,as well as effective market investment opportunities.The Belt and Road is such a joint construction and sharing initiative that runs parallel without interfering with the needs and efforts of all countries.
Since being proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013,the Belt and Road Initiative has rapidly become an action,reflected in the establishment of a series of international cooperation mechanisms and projects and the achievement of some early results.However,people still have different understandings,doubts,misunderstandings and even intentional distortions of this Initiative.This is not unexpected.After all,as any activity in human society will inevitably undergo a process of continuous exploration and recognition and any cooperation undertaking needs all parties involved to mutually adapt,the Belt and Road Initiative is inherently open-ended,so it also needs to accumulate experience,improve ideas and enhance mutual understanding during its implementation.Therefore,in every stage of practice of the Initiative,it is necessary to summarize the progress that has been made,evaluate the existing experience and confirm the consensuses that have been formed.
The Handbook can be regarded as a phased summary of the preliminary results of the theory and practice of the Belt and Road.The authors of this Handbook include researchers in related fields,and it tries to reflect the original intentions and principles,history and status quo,basic knowledge and latest research results related to the ideas and practice of the Belt and Road.The editors of the Handbook do not extravagantly hope that it can act as a guidance document for theory and practice,but expect that it can serve as a guide for readers and be of benefit to researchers,practitioners and observers involved in the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative and ordinary readers.The contents in the Handbook may not reflect the latest progress,and there might be some mistakes.The authors and editors are sincerely welcoming comments and criticisms from readers.
Vice President and Member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
President of National Institute for Global Strategy（NIGS），
Chinese Academy of Social Sciences