ISLAMABAD: Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for efforts to continue promoting the high-quality development of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) through joint efforts. The BRI should aim for high-standard, sustainable and people-centered progress, said Xi while addressing a high-level symposium on the initiative, according to the CGTN. This year marks the eighth year since the announcement of the BRI Initiative. Xi said the initiative has produced a mutual benefit for the countries involved. Through the joint construction of the BRI, the level of opening-up is lifted, the areas of opening-up are expanded, and institutional opening-up is promoted, he added. He said China’s “circle of friends” under the BRI was expanding, adding that BRI explored a new way to promote common development. New situation Xi voiced it is necessary to correctly understand and grasp the new situation facing the joint construction of the BRI. The theme of our times, peace and development, has not changed, and the trend toward economic globalization has not changed, he pointed out, adding that the co-construction of the BRI is facing important opportunities. The world is witnessing unprecedented major changes with the unprecedented fierce competition brought by a new round of sci-tech and industrial revolutions and the unprecedented impact on human society brought by the global issues including climate change and pandemic control and prevention, Xi said. Noting the international environment for building the BRI is becoming increasingly complex, Xi urged the country to maintain strategic determination, seize strategic opportunities, actively respond to challenges, and move forward. Xi also stressed the need to solidify the foundation for development, calling for promoting political consensus into concrete action and transforming idea recognition into practical results. He voiced the necessity of further promoting policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bonds. New areas of cooperation Xi also suggested expanding new areas of cooperation, such as pandemic control, low-carbon development, and e-commerce. He called for enhancing international cooperation in combating the pandemic and pledged to continuously provide assistance to the Belt and Road countries within China’s capabilities. The Chinese president also said the country will help developing countries obtain green and low-carbon energy, promote information sharing and capacity building for green and low-carbon development and deepen cooperation on ecological environment and climate governance. He stressed that China should further its digital cooperation with the Belt and Road countries, promote Silk Road e-commerce and build a digital cooperation pattern. “We should carry out the ‘Belt and Road’ Science, Technology and Innovation Cooperation Action Plan, strengthen international cooperation on intellectual property protection and create an open, fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for scientific and technological development,” Xi added. As the country is fostering the new development paradigm of “dual circulation,” Xi said the construction of the new development paradigm and the joint construction of the BRI must be considered overall. Building projects to improve people’s livelihood is an important way to quickly enhance the sense of gain for people in the Belt and Road countries, Xi pointed out and called for more grounding cooperation achievements. Strengthening risk prevention and control The Chinese president called for to comprehensively strengthening risk prevention and control, highlighting the importance of responding to COVID-19 and advancing the joint building of the BRI. He urged efforts to protect the lives and mental health of overseas personnel, fulfill their demands, as well as ensure the supply of materials and financial support for employees. “We should educate and guide our enterprises and citizens abroad to consciously abide by local laws and respect local customs and traditions,” Xi added. He also stressed the necessity of perfecting anti-corruption laws and regulations concerning foreign affairs and stepping up the fight against cross-border corruption. Enterprises of all kinds should standardize their business practices and never allow damage to the country’s reputation, Xi stressed and vowed to deal with violations of disciplines and laws seriously. Vice Premier Han Zheng, also head of the leading group on advancing BRI development, presided over the meeting.