ASTANA, Sept. 7 (Xinhua) -- The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) advocates the interests of the majority of people around the world and provides support to the least developed and most in need, especially small and medium-sized states, said Vladimir Norov, former secretary general of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), on Thursday.
"Despite attempts to discredit and distort the Belt and Road Initiative, the number of countries joining the BRI continues to grow," Norov, also former foreign minister of Uzbekistan, said at a seminar marking the 10th anniversary of the initiative.
"It is important to note that China's cooperation with these countries is carried out voluntarily, and China does not interfere in the internal affairs of partners," Norov added.
The seminar, titled "Global Conference on the Successes and Challenges of the Belt and Road Initiative 10 Years on and the Golden Age of China-Central Asia Engagement," took place at Nazarbayev University in Astana, capital of Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan's Deputy Minister of Information and Public Development Eldar Tolganbayev said in his speech that it was an honor for Kazakhstan that the BRI was piloted here.
"Ten years on, Kazakhstan and China have achieved great accomplishments in various fields including transportation, trade, and culture with combined efforts from both sides," Tolganbayev said.
More than 200 participants from China and Kazakhstan, including officials, scholars and students of Nazarbayev University, experts, entrepreneurs, and reporters, attended the seminar.
During the event, they exchanged ideas in an open and friendly atmosphere and reviewed the achievements in the past 10 years, expressing full confidence in the prospect of a China-Kazakhstan community with a shared future in the next "golden 30 years."
Central Asia is where the BRI was initiated. In a speech delivered at Nazarbayev University on Sept. 7, 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first time proposed building the Silk Road Economic Belt.
Since the launch of the BRI in 2013, 152 countries and 32 international organizations have signed documents under its framework. The BRI has generated nearly a trillion U.S. dollars in investment, created about 420,000 jobs, and helped lift nearly 40 million people out of poverty. ■