On December 2, the 2nd Asia-Europe Cooperation Dialogue was held in Chongqing. It gathered political and business representatives from related fields to discuss and offer suggestions on the connection between the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the development strategy of Europe, for example, how to enhance regional economic cooperation through the BRI construction, especially strengthening the development strategy connection between Asia and Europe.
What are the highlights of the BRI construction, and what opportunities it will bring to countries and enterprises along the routes?
Shamshad Akhtar, former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, introduced that a total of 1,800 projects have been reached under the BRI, valuing RMB 575 billion, and some of them are under implementation. These projects have provided countries suffering sluggish capital with foreign debt quotas, assets, and chances to accelerate infrastructure construction and motivate trade flows.
As for infrastructure construction, present guests suggested with examples that promoting multi-modal transportation would be one of the excellent starting points.
According to Chen Feng, Chairman of HNA Group, increasing more non-stop flights from Chongqing to Europe will create chances for countries concerned to develop. As a central city in Western China and located at the junction of the BRI and Yangtze River Economic Belt, Chongqing will play a significant role in the aviation development in the BRI construction.
In a workshop, Hu Hongbing, Vice Director of the Port and Logistics Office of Chongqing Municipal People’s Government, introduced Chongqing’s innovative measures in participating in the BRI construction.
Up to now, more than 4,500 China-Europe freight trains have been launched from Chongqing, accounting for 23% of the total. 350,000 TEUs have been carried in and out from Europe, with a total cargo value of over RMB 160 billion.
He added that the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor (ILSTC) is another innovation under the BRI, and the ILSTC will bring inland regions in Western China to the development frontier of opening-up to the globe.
Esko Aho, former Prime Minister of Finland and a professor in innovation, expressed that a challenge to build a smart city is creating a new service environment via innovative ways and science and technology. “Standard” plays a fundamental role in building a smart city.
Esko Aho introduced that a smart city should have availability and affordability, which means it should bring available convenience to citizens, and related service should be affordable at a lower price. To achieve this goal, the participation of small and emerging as well as large enterprises is required. In addition, “trust” is another central part of building a smart city. It means that the public can trust and utilize safe science and technology on the condition that their privacy has been well guaranteed.
“A smart city can help us tackle many problems, and we also need to have an in-depth understanding of feasible solutions of science and technology.” Esko Aho thought that the participation of multi-disciplinary intellectuals was of great significance.
Kim Won-soo, former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, held that sustainability has brought new changes to culture.
Specifically, he believes that maybe there are a thousand of smart cities in the world, and over half of them are in China, a country playing a leading role in developing smart cities over the past 30 years. “Next, we will have deeper consideration on the changes of the pattern,” Kim Won-soo said. The current development patterns are appropriate for large cities, while we need to focus on the sustainable development of smaller cities. In the future, realizing the connectivity between large and small cities will create a bigger network.
Liu Lihua, Deputy Director of the CPPCC Economic Committee, expressed that with the fast advancing information and communication techniques, the Internet of Things and smart cities are also developing rapidly.
Liu Lihua said that the Chinese government should formulate detailed planning and rules to implement the new development concept and put people first. A morality and ethics committee is also required to set bottom-line value, moral code, laws, and regulations to normalize artificial intelligence. He stressed that all the developing techniques should be beneficial to people’s lives, the co-existence of human beings and nature, and the harmony of people. They should contribute to people’s well-being instead of causing instability or other disadvantages.