By Verena Menzel
Dr. Thomas Wagner, President of the Swiss-Chinese Association, Former Mayor of Zurich, honorary citizen of Kunming, Dalian, Nanchang and Jinan :
I am so honored to have met President Xi Jinping twice when he visited Switzerland, once at a state banquet, and once at the Davos World Economic Forum. The keynote speech he delivered yesterday impressed me just as his speech in Switzerland did. It was open, clear, courageous and full of the wisdom of a politician.
Bernadia Irawati Tjandradewi from Indonesia:
I am honored to be part of this august gathering here in Beijing, at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. It was my first experience of seeing President Xi Jinping in person, and I was thrilled to listen to his speech. I want to thank him for his outstanding leadership and his idea of bringing nations together through his innovative Belt and Road Initiative. More to the point, I am convinced of his sincerity and his dedication to bringing prosperity and peace around the world by revitalizing the ancient Silk Road. The opportunities offered by the initiative are even more evident in these difficult times. The Belt and Road represents a solution for building better cultural and business relationships between countries around the world, especially in the Asia Pacific region.
The President's words on mutual respect, shared prosperity, openness, social justice and trust, have convinced me of his genuine desire to build a better future for this world. He is well aware that the task needs colossal effort and cannot be done alone. The President has called for greater cooperation between countries, letting minor differences melt away.
Fundamental elements in international cooperation are trust and respect. World United Cities and Local Government (UCLG) have championed the task of fostering cooperation between local governments at a global level, as we are close to our constituencies and our communities.
I used this occasion to sign a cooperation agreement with our Chinese counterpart, and also to unveil the newly established committees initiated by our Chinese members. UCLG-ASPAC Committee on Belt and Road Local Cooperation and the 21st-Century Maritime Cooperation Committee were formed by Huangzhou and Fuzhou, respectively. These two are under the auspices of UCLG-ASPAC, the largest section of UCLG, and in close coordination with the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.
Through both Committees, further cooperation amongst cities and local governments along the Belt and Road will be strengthened. Although it is a huge undertaking, we will make this vision a reality. We will facilitate and add value in exchanges and invest in human resources, local equipment, good leadership, and people-to-people exchanges at a local level, with concrete actions. Areas that need particular attention are mobility, safe public spaces, gender equality, and local economic development.
UCLG-ASPAC has also launched a new publication - "One Belt, One Road" - that is dedicated to the exchange of innovation and best practices in urban development, trade, cultural renaissance and green living in countries along the silk route. The publication is designed to become a knowledge-sharing tool for fostering better relations among the countries. I am confident that it will certainly help people across the world.
As President Xi mentioned, we must all be optimistic. A journey is not always a straight path. But I believe that if we go together, the journey will be an easy one.
I hope that the Silk Road, which goes back over 2,000 years and has helped build stable and prosperous regions, can be revived today in our generation.
As our ancestors and great explorers have done before us, we too can shape the future of the next generation with our passion, dedication and collaborative efforts.
Guy Ryder, Director General of the International Labour Organization
"The Belt and Road Initiative is all about connectivity and in my opinion the initiative is capable of implementing connectivity in all fields. In his opening speech this morning China's president Xi Jinping used the picture of a caterpillar coming out of its cocoon to describe the global cooperation between the countries of the world. But what we see in many countries at the moment instead is that they move back into their cocoons. I remember what Xi Jinping said once in Geneva: The failures of globalization are no reason to abandon it, they are a reason for further improving it. And that is what the Belt and Road Initiative will do. As I see it, this initiative has tremendous potential."
Erik Gudbrand Solheim, Executive Director of United Nations Environment Program
"We should embrace the vision of Xi Jinping, a vision of global prosperity. In times of so much global pessimism his speech this morning was very refreshing. He is promoting free trade, global prosperity, shared goods and global peace. Xi promotes a global coalition for a green Belt and Road. We should all take part in this great vision. Let's build a green Silk Road with green energy and green transportation. China is the leading country in the field of electric transportation already today. Under the framework of the New Silk Road we should exchange green ideas. As president Xi said in his opening remarks this morning, we can all learn from each other. Let's make this vision true."
Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, Chief Minister of Punjab/Pakistan:
"President Xi's vision of the New Silk Road is very brave and very futuristic. It is a vision of promoting friendly cooperation, it is harmonious, it promotes coordination. This is, what makes this initiative so popular around the globe. The Belt and Road Initiative provides the common man not only in Pakistan with real opportunities and vastly promotes the cooperation between China and Pakistan in many fields and ways. We are very grateful for the opportunities China has given us under the framework of One Belt One Road in the last years."
Dhanin Chearavanont, Chairman of Chai Tai Group
"In my opinion, the Belt and Road Initiative will bring prosperity not only for current but also for future generations. It will definitely strengthen international cooperation. That so many representatives from different countries all over the world came to Beijing today to attend this meeting, shows that the One Belt One Road Initiative has already become a global consensus. Thailand has a very positive attitude towards this great initiative and our government fully understands its intentions. So we are confident, that it will bring benefits to all people. However, the One Belt One Road Initiative is still not widely enough known and understood among Thailand's common people. They don't fully understand, how the mutual cooperation works and how they can take part in it. This is a challenge for the future. I remember, that President Xi once said, that overseas Chinese are a key for the implementation of the One Belt One Road Initiative and I strongly agree. People to people bounds are crucial for the success of the New Silk Road. They will form a key for the initiative's successful implementation."