Participants listen to a speaker at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on Cyberspace during the 6th World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, East China's Zhejiang province, on Oct 21, 2019. (Photo: China Daily)
Cooperative projects under the auspices of the Belt and Road Initiative have started to reap early gains, as politicians from different countries hailed its role in enhancing connectivity and boosting new opportunities for development.
The grand and ambitious initiative "answers the call of our times for regional and global cooperation", said Shaukat Aziz, former prime minister of Pakistan.
"Not since the Silk Road more than 2,000 years ago has the world seen such an ambitious effort to boost connectivity, strengthen existing ties and forge new ways of building cooperation," he said at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on Cyberspace during the sixth World Internet Conference in Wuzhen on Monday.
He said the BRI has already seen positive steps forward in bringing greater cooperation and connectivity to the region, and it shows how "such an economic initiative can be an enabler of peace and prosperity".
Tangible results have surfaced notably on the digital front, with countries like Rwanda boarding the internet express through "significant and fruitful" partnerships with companies like Alibaba Group, said Antoine Sebera, chief innovation officer of the Rwandan government.
"We are on the track of creating a single market for goods and services in Africa, and China has for many years been a great partner to Africa and to Rwanda in particular," he said.
Last year, Chinese internet leader Alibaba agreed to multiple bilateral initiatives to promote the African country's economy through increased cross-border trade, capacity building and tourism.
A major tenet of the agreements is Rwanda's admission to the Electronic World Trade Platform, which provides small-and medium-sized enterprises with operational infrastructure, such as e-commerce logistics, cloud computing, mobile payments and skills training.
"This platform and the synergies have created immense benefits to small enterprises, local producers and exporters," he said.
Also benefiting is Portugal, with whom China has signed a number of memorandums of understanding in a total of 17 protocols ranging from culture and resources to science and technology, said Jose Luis Pinto Ramalho, chairman of the League of Portugal-China Lasting Friendship.
Among them was a memorandum of understanding on the BRI, which set out some of the possibilities for bilateral cooperation under the BRI, covering a wide range of sectors, particularly connectivity and electric mobility, he noted.
"We support the vision that the international community should work together for the development of technology, innovation of emerging sectors ... for win-win concepts and ... the general sharing of benefits," he said.
China is actively pushing ahead with international partnerships on the technology and digital front, having signed 16 collaboration documents with nations on the construction of the digital Silk Road, said Shang Bing, president of the Internet Society of China.
"We should strengthen coordination on strategy, policy and standards among nations, promote deepened integration of the internet and the real economy, and enhance cooperation in cyberspace governance," Shang said.