Czechs help build common prosperity
Updated: 2016-03-25 08:26
By Fu Jing(China Daily Europe)
Prague has a long list of ideas for Belt and Road Initiative, and the will to make them happen
My interviews with politicians, businesspeople, shop owners, writers, sports coaches and even people on the streets show the Czech Republic, which I visited recently, is tailor-made for China's Belt and Road Initiative, because Czechs are well-prepared to meet China's proposals, have a long list of ideas about how to engage with the Chinese people and are ready to turn those ideas into reality.
The Czech Republic, along with countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Pakistan, Russia, Indonesia and Greece, is set to become a partner in the Belt and Road Initiative, which President Xi Jinping proposed in 2013 to better connect Asia, Europe and Africa with improved infrastructure, stronger trade and finance vehicles, a freer flow of talent and more cultural exchanges.
Xi proposed the initiative to help the world economy flourish and eradicate poverty. To make the initiative a success, however, the participating countries should also offer concrete ideas.
The Czech Republic understands this very well. It has come up with mega-programs to realize connectivity, which is the core element of the Belt and Road Initiative. Being a landlocked country with a total population that adds up to only half of Beijing's, the Czech Republic is working on a water corridor linking the Danube, Oder and Elbe rivers to gain access to the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. And it is keen to seek China's help to fulfil that dream.
Like many European countries that use "gateways" to highlight their geographic advantages, the Czech Republic has offered to work with China to turn Prague into an aviation and financial hub. And it has already partnered with China's Sichuan province to build a high-tech industrial zone.
Chinese companies, though still only on a small scale, are starting to invest in media, soccer clubs, and entertainment companies in the Czech Republic, which, according to Czech politicians, will help the country catch the development train with China.
Apart from the business ideas, the Czech Republic has also mobilized a lot of resources to facilitate coordination. The country's government has set up a special working team, which includes six vice-ministers, to deal with matters related to China. The team reports directly to the president and prime minister.
A think tank specializing in Belt and Road Initiative research has also been set up to offer suggestions and advice to top decision-makers in the Czech Republic. These moves are encouraging signs, as they show how some countries are taking concerted actions on multiple fronts to promote the Belt and Road Initiative.
Efforts are also being made in the Czech Republic to connect minds. On my final day in the country, I interviewed prolific middle-aged Czech translator Zuzana Li over lunch. She said China-Czech cooperation is not only about business and trade, as she has translated 10 books of modern and contemporary Chinese fiction and poetry into the Czech language. She has also started offering online materials to secondary school teachers in a bid to introduce Chinese literature to Czechs, which she says could be another window on China.
Li's idea reminded me of a saying by Lu Xun, a Chinese writer and thinker active in the early 20th century: Basically, there is no road in the world; a road takes shape because more people walk on it. The Belt and Road Initiative needs ideas and active contributions from people across the world, who are also expected to be as proactive as the Czechs to turn China's proposal into their own agenda.
This is how a road of common prosperity is built, and this is what a world caught in conflicts, wars, terrorism and economic turmoil badly needs.
The author is deputy editor of China Daily European Edition.
Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org