China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) formerly known as One Belt One Road is a global infrastructure development strategy adopted by the Chinese government in 2013 to invest in nearly 70 countries and international organizations.
It aims to interconnect the world’s nations through a network of land roads, railroads, ports, pipelines, maritime routes and telecommunications networks.
Syria and China on Thursday signed in Damascus an agreement to join this Levantine nation to the initiative of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road.
The document was signed by Fadi al-Khalil, Chairman of the Planning and International Cooperation Commission, and Chinese Ambassador to Syria Feng Biao.
In statements to the press, Al-Khalil said that Syria is already part of the initiative and this helps it open broad horizons of cooperation with China and other countries. Cooperation between the two nations will include the exchange of goods, technology and capital, in addition to activating the movement of people and the cultural exchange.
He said that Beijing and Damascus will cooperate to facilitate trade barter and the reconstruction of infrastructure, and electric and alternative energy.
To date, some 150 countries and 32 organizations joined this initiative announced by China in 2013.
Belt and Road Initiative is considered a centerpiece of the Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s foreign policy. The initiative plans to connect the historical Silk Route that connected trade routes from Asia to Central Asia till Europe.
The project proposed overland routes for road and rail transportation through landlocked Central Asia along the famed historical trade routes of the Western Regions and the Indo-Pacific sea routes through Southeast Asia to South Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
Examples of Belt and Road Initiative infrastructure investments include ports, skyscrapers, railroads, roads, bridges, airports, dams, coal-fired power stations, and railroad tunnels.
Three belts are proposed. The North belt would go through Central Asia and Russia to Europe. The Central belt passes through Central Asia and West Asia to the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean. The South belt runs from China through Southeast Asia and South Asia and on to the Indian Ocean through Pakistan. The strategy will integrate China with Central Asia through Kazakhstan’s Nurly Zhol infrastructure program.