Belt and Road help British sociologist ascertain new path for globalization

2019-04-25 10:59

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LONDON, April 25 (Xinhua) -- A book with Chinese traditional blue-and-white porcelain patterns on its front cover was launched last year at the annual London Book Fair.

Turning to Page 36, one could easily identify the following words: "The Belt and Road Initiative is showing the world a pre-eminently practical way forward."

The 14-chapter book, titled China's Role in a Shared Human Future, was the fruit of years of work by 82-year-old British scholar Martin Albrow. Devoting his whole life to sociology, especially related to international issues like globalization, Albrow has always been fascinated by China.

Albrow likes to recall his early days at the London School of Economics where he was inspired by a seminar given by a sinologist. He made his first visit to the Asian country in the 1980s.

Albrow's growing interest in China led him to study the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2015 and learn Chinese. The BRI is "a philosophy of history," a major solution offered by China to tackle global challenges and build an open and more inclusive economy, he said.

The BRI, first proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting the world on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit.

Albrow finds the BRI increasingly important amid tensions with globalism and the challenges of the 21st century.

"I think we're in a more dangerous place, the world, than it has been for quite some time, and one of the reasons is globalization because what globalization, in particular economic globalization does, is it puts strains upon every national economy," Albrow said.

"One of the most important ways of approaching contemporary global problems is to treat them in terms of projects and goals, and ... this is what 'One Belt One Road' does," he said.

Regarding some western voices of doubt over the BRI, Albrow, being one of the first sociology academics at a British university, said "they're all the product of fear."

Such doubts "are all the products of the sense that the world order is changing, that the West has lost its domination," Albrow said.

During his comparative research on globalization and the BRI, which later crystallized as the 2018 book, Albrow would often invite Chinese scholars to visit the Crystal Palace Park in southern London, a Victorian pleasure ground.

The park, being one of the most iconic places in the history of globalization, was like "a continuation of the Silk Road," he said. "And now ... the spirit of (the) Silk Road is in (the) Belt and Road, so this is the continuation of a global history."

After interacting with scholars from different fields and drawing inspiration from the clashes of ideas, Albrow discovered that the concept of cooperating and sharing, which is deeply rooted in Chinese culture and dates back centuries, is what makes the BRI significant in the era of globalization.

And that is exactly why he chose the word "shared" for the book title.

The effect of globalization "is so big that you have to have collective leadership and the people working as a whole," he said. "We won't be able to handle global issues unless we cooperate."

The BRI, in contrast to isolationism, is a "tremendously important contribution" by China "towards an improvement of the world situation, not just globalization, but across the board," he said.

China is leading the world in stressing that every country, regardless of its size, can make a contribution toward this collective effort, said the British expert.

"When you talk about a shared human future," he said, "you talk about the things that we can do together in the future."

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