By Fu Jing (China Daily), April 25, 2017
The newly built “Silk Road Golden Bridge” in Beijing Olympic Park gets its lights tested on April 18, 2017, in preparation for the upcoming Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation that will be held from May 14 to 15.
As the highly-anticipated Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing approaches, many Europe-based China observers are thinking of using the May 14-15 forum to deepen dialogue and exchanges, and institutionalize the Belt and Road Initiative (the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road) proposed by President Xi Jinping more than three years ago.
Out of the 28 state leaders who have confirmed their participation in the forum, which is aimed at improving connectivity among Asia, Europe and Africa, more than 10 will be from Europe. Due to domestic elections, the leaders of the United Kingdom, France and Germany will not be able to attend the forum but they will send high-level officials to join the discussions.
Recent talks with China experts in Europe show they understand the significance of the forum. Some Europeans have even compared it with the annual G20 summit, a platform set up in 2008 to mainly facilitate global macroeconomic policy coordination among the world’s 20 largest economies.
Luigi Gambardella, president of ChinaEU, a business-led international association in Brussels, said the Belt and Road Initiative reminds him of the connection between the ancient Silk Road and his own country, Italy. He is ready to organize a Silk Road seminar in Rome next week before leaving for Beijing to attend the forum.
He also plans to propose that next year’s Belt and Road forum be organized in Venice, Italy. Historically, he said, Venice was closely linked to China’s ancient Silk Road. Explorer Marco Polo (1254-1324), an Italian who “introduced” China to Europe, was from Venice. And Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni will attend the Beijing forum.
他还准备提议明年的“一带一路”论坛在意大利威尼斯举办。 从历史角度来讲，他谈到，威尼斯与中国古代的丝绸之路密切相关。 探索者马可波罗（1254-1324），这个将中国“介绍”给欧洲的人，就来自意大利的威尼斯。 今年意大利总理Paolo Gentiloni也将出席这次北京的高峰论坛。
Among those Europeans who have closely observed China’s development, Gambardella said European countries should pay attention and offer political goodwill to Chinese initiatives, which aim to boost the flows of capital, technology, human resources and even tourists. Italy should shoulder the responsibility because of its historical links with China through the old Silk Road.
作为密切关注中国发展的欧洲人，鲁乙己说，欧洲国家应该对中国的倡议给予关注和政治上的亲善， 因为一带一路的目标是增加资本、技术、人力资源乃至游客的流动。 意大利因其在古代丝绸之路上与中国建立的历史性联系更应当肩负起责任。
Jan Kohout, adviser to Czech Republic President Milos Zeman, who himself will attend the May forum, has a different view. Kohout, former Czech foreign minister and founder of the Prague-based New Silk Road Institute, said his country has already built a “political highway” with China, and the most important thing is to identify partners and implement the various deals.
将亲自出席5月高峰论坛的捷克共和国总统Milos Zeman的顾问Jan Kohout则有不同的观点。 Kohout先生是前捷克外交部长，也是布拉格新丝绸之路研究所的创始人。他表示，他的国家已经与中国建立起了“政治高速路”，现在最重要的是明确合作伙伴并展开各项交易。
Kohout suggested that the high-level political forum be organized every two or three years but it is important that every country of the dozens which have agreed to join the Belt and Road Initiative assign a dedicated coordinator for the purpose. And a meeting of all the coordinators should be organized every year.
Raising another important point, Kohout said the initiative should eventually become a two-way platform to link China and the rest of the world. Taking his country as example, he said many investors from the Czech Republic are also keen on exploring opportunities in China.
Dimitris Bourantonis, deputy rector of Athens University of Economics and Business, echoed Gambardella’s view, saying the Belt and Road forum should be institutionalized and the presidency rotated every year. Greece is an active supporter of the initiative, and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will be among the state leaders present at the Beijing forum.
雅典经济与商业大学副校长Dimitris Bourantonis则响应了鲁乙己的看法，他说，一带一路论坛应该制度化，实行每年轮值主席制。 希腊也是该倡议的积极支持者，希腊总理Alexis Tsipras将是出席北京“一带一路”高端论坛的国家领导人之一。
As a new event in global governance, Bourantonis said there is need to establish a permanent secretariat for the Belt and Road forum to coordinate regional development, which is the essence of the initiative.
China has always said that, although the initiative is its proposal, it is for all participants. So it is therefore important to listen to suggestions and ideas of every country that has joined the initiative, in order to facilitate efficient dialogue and exchange platforms.
European opinion leaders have already started their brain-storming. And their contribution is essential for the success of the Beijing forum.
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