China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which seeks to build structural linkages and cooperation between countries has been held up as a model of global collaboration.
Initially set up as a framework for cooperation between Eurasian countries, the BRI is being hailed as being perfectly in sync with the theme of the World Economic Forum's (WEF) 2018 theme of "creating a shared future in a fractured world".
Participants at a WEF session on Wednesday agreed that the BRI presents a unique opportunity to connect continents through infrastructure, cultural and technological exchange in order to drive sustained economic progress.
"The Belt and Road Initiative is perfectly in sync with the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2018 about creating a shared future in a fractured world," said Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Prime Minister of Pakistan.
"The Belt and Road Initiative is a physical manifestation of the bond between countries that have existed through history" and can result in "freer movement of people, goods and ideas, and a greater culture of openness".
Fellow participant Chan Chun Sing of the Office of the Prime Minister of Singapore said Singapore welcomed the BRI, saying that as a financial hub, Singapore can provide support to bring about a more tightly integrated global economic system.
"We should move beyond the perspective of a zero-sum game," he said, and focus on creating more interdependencies.
Jin Liqun, President of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in China and which is instrumental in funding the BRI, said: “Protectionism is a reality you have to live with. But when we promote connectivity and infrastructure projects which can bring people together with shared benefits, I think there will be less market for protectionism."
"The Belt and Road is more than just an infrastructure project, it is a crucial engine for building a more socially inclusive tomorrow," said Ren Hongbin, Chairman of the China National Machinery Industry Corp. (Sinomach).
"It belongs to everyone. This will be a tremendous opportunity for China to help to build a better system that allows the world to participate in the next phase of growth for the world economy."
Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, agreed, saying: "The fractured world is being discussed in Davos and the Belt and Road Initiative is one of the best ways to address this. President Xi’s message of inclusivity contrasts very poignantly with some of the other messages we hear about division."
Michael S. Burke, chairman and CEO of US infrastructure firm AECOM cautioned that the size and scale of projects such as the BRI cannot be done by any one country, and neither by the private sector alone, or the public sector alone.
He further emphasised the challenges of tax regulation. "For a 30-year project, we need certainty about the regulatory environment because there are plenty of other uncertainties."
Clean and green infrastructure is another shared priority.
"We will be able to finance infrastructure projects without leaving a big footprint on the environment," said Jin Liqun, stressing the need to work in the interests of local communities. "Instead, we should be able to improve the environment."