PHNOM PENH, May 17 (Xinhua) -- Cooperation projects under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) have provided tangible benefits to Cambodia and the world during the COVID-19 pandemic, a scholar in Cambodia said on Saturday.
"During the COVID-19 pandemic, I think that the BRI has played a very important role in helping countries cushion the economic fallout of the pandemic," Joseph Matthews, a senior professor at the BELTEI International University in Phnom Penh, told Xinhua.
"The BRI remains as a driving force to continue expanding cooperation among countries in the region and the world at large for the cause of peace, security, prosperity and sustainable development," he said.
In the southeast Asian country, he said the BRI projects like hydropower plants, the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway, the new Siem Reap International Airport, the national stadium, and the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone, among others, have provided great benefits to Cambodia's economic development.
"The Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone has importantly contributed to increasing the country's exports, and hydropower plants have supplied stable electricity, which is essential to ensure the normalcy of people's daily lives and businesses," Matthews said.
He said the development of infrastructures such as roads, rails, airports, seaports, hydropower plants, and special economic or industrial zones under the BRI is crucial to reducing logistics costs, enhancing economic competitiveness, and diversifying sources of growth.
Southeast Asian nations such as Laos, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia have also greatly benefited from the BRI, he said, adding that the China-Laos high-speed rail project, which connects Kunming in China's Yunnan Province with Lao capital Vientiane, is a boon not only for both countries but also for other southeast Asian nations.
"Since its inception in 2013, the BRI is becoming the new engine of global economic growth and it has importantly contributed to boosting regional and global cooperation in terms of hard and soft infrastructure, economy, trade, investment opportunities, cultural exchange, and people to people connectivity," he said.
Matthews said that China has always shared its knowledge, technology, and wealth with developing countries around the world.
"The BRI, backed by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), has been connecting the world as a community with a shared future for mankind, and China's fruits of development have always been shared with the world," he said.
The BRI, a reference to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, was initiated by China in 2013 to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa on and beyond the ancient Silk Road trade routes.
Produced by Xinhua Global Service