The OBOReurope team supports Chinese citizens in their fight against the coronavirus, and expresses its compassion to families affected by the virus.
Facing the virus, the Chinese people have kept their dignity and doctors have showed their professional skills. China is demonstrating an ongoing commitment to limit the spread of the virus.
However, several media argued that the coronavirus is a threat to China’s New Silk Roads initiative. On the contrary, the coronavirus crisis shows us that more than ever the Belt and Road initiative must be continued.
Today, several states have reduced Chinese citizens’ access to their territory to limit the spread of the virus. At the economic level, certain production chains have also been impacted by the reduction in activities in Hubei province. However, these temporary decisions in no way call into question the principles of the Belt and Road initiative.
A “multi-dimensional” project
The Belt and Road initiative is not just about building new infrastructure. Rail and sea transportation between China, Asia, Europe and Africa is a key component of the BRI, but the Belt and Road Initiative is not only about transport. The BRI also aims to facilitate trade and increase exchanges. It offers a strong research dimension with the development of university exchanges and the launch of satellite programs so that emerging countries have better access to innovation to answer future challenges. With the BRI, countries are working on harmonizing norms and standards in order to better control the quality of exchanged goods and services.
A Health Silk Road
In 2018, the current WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the BRI would redefine global health. China has made huge strides in health care and would continue to do so. In 2016, China adopted the “Healthy China 2030” plan to reform its health system, -similar measures could be applied to other countries-.
Moreover, thanks to the BRI, by creating new infrastructure, particularly in the energy sector, the poorest people in Africa and Asia have easier access to health services.
The BRI can therefore act as global platform to study new threats to health and find solutions by strengthening cooperation between Chinese and foreign labs.
Finally, the development of innovation along the new Silk Roads will provide support to laboratories and hi-tech companies operating in health care; this would accelerate the development of health solutions.
BRI’s continuation is therefore an adequate way to fight against new epidemics. When the coronavirus crisis has completely disappeared, China and its partners will have to continue their cooperation programs under the BRI framework. The new Silk Roads program is as a solution to future epidemics.