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> News > IN CHINA

Italian scholar hails BRI as boon to world’s future

LIAN ZHIXIAN | 2023-08-17 | Hits:
Chinese Social Sciences Today

Workers walk past a banner of the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed train in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Aug. 12. As part of the China-proposed Belt and Road infrastructure initiative, the train is the first high-speed rail service in Southeast Asia. Photo: CFP

The year 2023 marks the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Throughout the past decade, China has made consistent progress in advancing openness and strengthening international cooperation, resulting in significant accomplishments within the BRI. In a recent interview with CSST, Rocco Lacorte, an Italian scholar and associate professor of Marxism at Nankai University in China, expressed his perspectives on the initiative and the factors contributing to its noteworthy success.

Unprecedented historical initiative

Acknowledging the BRI as an unprecedented historical initiative, Lacorte said that it is of the highest importance not only for China, but also for the future of the entire world.?

By late June, more than 150 countries and 32 international organizations have signed more than 200 BRI cooperation documents with China. In Lacorte’s view, the successes of the BRI first stem from the Chinese leadership’s capacity to attentively address the concerns of the people, both within China and abroad. “Indeed, if the BRI has been accepted by an increasing number of countries it is because the measures it proposes are truly widely needed. This is why it appeared since its beginnings crucial for its positive implications related to the future peaceful development of the world.” Furthermore, the accomplishments of the initiative stem from China’s opening-up to the global community.

The BRI is eliciting a new type of global economic integration and cooperation, materially implemented through the construction of a large number of roads, railways, and bridges, ports and airports, energy infrastructures and telecommunication systems, which are absolutely needed for a more efficient and rapid allocation of resources, market interpenetration, and cultural exchanges, Lacorte said. Evidence has shown that the new form of collaboration has indeed brought and continues to bring significant advantages to all those involved, particularly developing countries.

Pursuing ‘true development’

Quoting the late American independent journalist André Vltchek, Lacorte said that the time to try a different approach to international human relationships has come, as the policies of the West appear to be going against the trends of history and incapable of taking care of the major problems facing today’s world.

“It seems quite evident that the Chinese leadership is working in the direction of promoting a kind of development different from the Western kind,” Lacorte said. For centuries, the West has promoted a development model which follows the logic of imperialism, and has only benefited, and still increasingly benefits, only restricted groups of people. It looks like the unfolding of a real oxymoron, as it is obtained at the expense of the majority of the populations inside and outside the countries, thus creating contradictions or exacerbating the existing ones, causing poverty, suffering, and crises. China, on the other hand, is showing that it is possible to achieve development without harming its own people or the people of other countries. It is demonstrating that development through mutual respect and reciprocal benefits is not just a possibility, but a current reality.

“In regard to the BRI, we should stress once more how it has already saved millions from material poverty and moral misery,” Lacorte continued. It has provided (and is providing) them with new and better lives, education, jobs, etc. Elements such as the quality of life, happiness, ethical behavior and ecology are at the core, and economic growth and modernization, the development of productive forces and society are still their powerful and necessary “organs,” though they continue to be so on one condition: they are firmly subordinated to the former.

One may observe how increasing economic cooperation and integration constitutes an important step—and strategy—for reducing the risk of conflicts and, at the same time, contrasting what we called “development without progress.” “True development” of the type underpinned by China and its partners in the Global South seems instead to be the new paradigm to promote and follow. This paradigm suggests that by building a human community with a shared future and striving for a peaceful world, we can achieve genuine development, Lacorte said.?

A new ‘philosophy’

According to Lacorte, the strength of the BRI consists not only in the fact that it is an economic project, but also a new “philosophy” (in a broad sense). This new “philosophy” is definitively a creative development of Marxism. It presents a worldview that is expressed in the new harmonious and peaceful development of exchanges—economic, political, technological, and cultural—based on multilateral international collaboration, integration and partnership, not monopolized by only one country.?

As a new way of conceiving and practicing human relations and exchanges that is gradually transforming both the relations of force at a global level, and the rules and substance of the “game” played by the various actors on the terrain of international relationships, the BRI paves the way to multilateralism and a new international order based on win-win mutual development, Lacorte said.?

True universal development can only be achieved through a growing sense of mutual benefit and advantage. In October 2021, Chinese President Xi Jinping said in the keynote speech to the opening ceremony of the Second United Nations Global Sustainable Transport Conference: “Only when countries develop together can there be true development” and that “only when countries prosper together can there be true prosperity.”?

President Xi Jinping’s words illustrate how the question must be set and understood, as they contain the dialectical (or holistic) awareness and methodological principles to approach it correctly, Lacorte said. More generally, China’s leadership has shown it is highly conscious that the development of one country implies the same for all the other countries around the world, and vice versa.?

By promoting a type of development arising from win-win cooperation and solidarity on a world scale, the BRI seems to constitute a very powerful antidote to imperialism and a foundation for fostering non-imperialist, non-hegemonic types of international relations, Lacorte concluded.?


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