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China’s Belt And Road Initiative Counters Isolationist Sentiment: Australian Academics

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SYDNEY, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) — China’s Belt and Road initiative is a good way to counter the renewed protectionist and isolationist sentiment, Australian academics told a forum discussing the historical significance of the Silk Road on Wednesday.

“We cannot retreat into a state of splendid isolation, and that’s fundamentally what the Belt and Road initiative is all about,” Director of the Confucius Institute at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Laurie Pearcey, told the forum.

China has vowed it will not “shut the door” to globalization, instead continuing to promote interconnectivity through initiatives like the Belt and Road, which inevitably seeks to recreate the fruits of the ancient Silk Road.

“It’s about bridging those movements in people, those movements in capital, goods and services, and I think that’s a really exciting initiative to counter some of the more isolationist movements that we’ve seen over recent pasts,” said Pearcey.

Pearcey argued the ancient Silk Road, as the modern Silk Road, is about openness, not in both directions along the trade route, but all directions.

The highly lucrative ancient Silk Road brought a steady stream of Chinese silk and other goods into Europe in exchange for gold, a major reason for the development of the early trade routes. It also brought people of different cultures together in harmony, China Central Television (CCTV) documentary producer Sun Zengtian said, using a mural discovered in Turpan that included Turks, Mongols, Indians and Koreans as an example.

Asked if the modern Silk Road is a threat, UNSW adjunct professor of law Nicholas Morris said “I don’t get the impression of a country that wants to take over everywhere,” noting he teaches officials at the China Executive Leadership Academy Pudong.

“(China) just wants pragmatical benefit from increased interaction with the rest of the world,” he said. “We should not see them as a threat, we should see them as an opportunity,” he added.