Chinese President Xi Jinping has just concluded a trip to Cambodia, Bangladesh and India, during which he participated in the BRICS Summit in Goa, India, at the weekend.
From the perspective of geopolitics, this was an important diplomatic activity that deepened China’s bilateral ties with the three countries, which are all important for the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative.
It was also a trip that resulted in concrete achievements as China and Bangladesh agreed to deepen strategic partnership of cooperation and 31 cooperation agreements were signed with Cambodia, most of them in infrastructure construction and industry.
These achievements are important for advancing the China-Indochina Peninsula Economic Corridor, and the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor.
They are also the realisation of China’s latest efforts in carrying out the Belt and Road Initiative from the angle of bilateral partnerships and border-region cooperation.
In a China-Cambodia joint communiqué, the two sides agreed to accelerate the effective integration of Cambodia’s Rectangular Strategy with China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
For this, the two sides signed a memorandum of understanding regarding bilateral cooperation for the Belt and Road Initiative.
This is the second bilateral cooperation agreement between China and a country in the Indochina Peninsula, after the one between China and Laos.
In Bangladesh, a series of bilateral cooperation agreements were signed on industrial cooperation, information communication, energy and electricity, diplomacy, disaster-prevention and control and climate change, among other things, within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Mr Xi also attended the launch ceremony of some important bilateral cooperation projects.
Bangladesh is located where South Asia joins South-east Asia, an important intersection in the Belt and Road Initiative. The Belt and Road Initiative can be effectively integrated with Bangladesh’s foreign-bound strategic cooperation, so as to create new opportunities for win-win cooperation between China and Bangladesh.
The neighbouring countries and regions are important starting points for the construction of both the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
That is why China attaches great significance to consolidating its neighborhood cooperation as a foundation for implementing the Belt and Road Initiative.
Mr Xi’s visits indicate bilateral cooperation is an important means to furthering the construction of the Belt and Road.
The countries visited have huge needs in infrastructure construction, including roads, airports, ports, energy, and telecommunications, and constructing this infrastructure is key to building the aforementioned corridors, which should not only promote interconnectivity in their infrastructure construction, but also create jobs, and form regional production networks and value chains for industrial development in the countries concerned.
There was an international seminar on the Belt and Road Initiative held in Xi’an, Shaanxi province, recently.
A report issued at the seminar showed the achievements of the initiative in the past three years have been more than expected. Mr Xi’s visit to Pakistan in 2015 effectively pushed forward the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and the construction of the China-Indochina Peninsula Economic Corridor will be of practical importance to deepening win-win cooperation between China and the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean), and shaping the maturity of China-Asean partnership in the coming years.
Likewise, the construction of the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor will inject new vitality into China-South Asia cooperation.
Only when these two corridors see concrete progress will the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road be pushed forward in a balanced way.
The author is a researcher on Asian-Pacific studies and global strategies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.