China's science community to expand cooperation with Belt and Road countries

China's science community to expand cooperation with Belt and Road countries

There are a number of obstacles to be overcome to realize full benefit from exchanges.

A view of the Belt Road Brand Expo in Shanghai, June 30, 2018 PHOTO IC China's scientific community will expand cooperation with countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative in the name of high-quality development and improving livelihoods, according to experts at the second annual meeting of the Forum on High Quality Development of the Belt and Road Initiative on Sunday.

They added that climate change, environmental protection, clean energy, the digital economy, public health, the transfer of technology and professional training are some areas where BRI countries can benefit from more robust international cooperation.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the proposal for the Belt and Road Initiative. According to Bai Chunli, President of the Alliance of International Science Organizations, a nonprofit, non-governmental science organization, China has signed 200 BRI collaboration agreements with 151 countries and 32 international organizations since then.

Bai said the initiative had resulted in closer economic ties between China and the BRI signatories. The China-Europe railway connects Chinese cities to Poland, Germany and other European countries, and there were 16,000 freight trains operated in both directions last year.

The Belt and Road Initiative has achieved a lot of success. Bai said that no initiative proposed by a developing country had garnered this level of popularity and influence in history.

Science and technology can play important roles in the development of the Belt and Road Initiative by offering new solutions to shared issues, such as public health and climate change, he said.

Since 2016, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Education, and the National Natural Science Foundation of China have issued dedicated guidelines and action plans to promote scientific and technological cooperation among BRI countries in areas ranging from agricultural innovation to university education.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences has established 10 overseas science and education centers, launched more than 100 research collaboration projects with BRI countries and trained nearly 5,000 high-level scientists, Bai said.

Bai said that science cooperation with BRI countries currently faces four main obstacles: optimizing top-level design and cooperation mechanisms, overcoming external disturbances such as conflicts, the social and economic gap among BRI nations, and lack of professionals and funding to deepen cooperation.

Future BRI sci-tech cooperation should focus on building innovation capability, building people-to-people relations, sharing data and technology for mutual benefit, and creating clear policies to support prioritized fields to overcome these issues.

Ning Jizhe, the deputy director of the Committee on Economic Affairs of the National Committee on the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said the Belt and Road Initiative benefits China and the world by supporting economic globalization and free trade.

Justin Yifu Lin, Dean of the Institute of New Structural Economics at Peking University, said that future collaboration could focus on strengthening existing comparative advantages and turning them into global competitive advantages.

Yu Hongjun, former deputy head of the International Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said the goals of the Belt and Road Initiative are to increase interconnectivity among developing countries by building new infrastructure, enhancing trade and commerce, and deepening cultural exchange and mutual trust.

He said that these actions seek to achieve mutual development, prosperity, progress and security.