ladies and gentlemen,
from the historical perspective, humankind has reached an age of great progress, great transformation and profound changes. in this increasingly multi-polar, economically globalized, digitized and culturally diversified world, the trend toward peace and development becomes stronger, and reform and innovation are gaining momentum. never have we seen such close interdependence among countries as today, such fervent desire of people for a better life, and never have we had so many means to prevail over difficulties.
in terms of reality, we find ourselves in a world fraught with challenges. global growth requires new drivers, development needs to be more inclusive and balanced, and the gap between the rich and the poor needs to be narrowed. hotspots in some regions are causing instability and terrorism is rampant. deficit in peace, development and governance poses a daunting challenge to mankind. this is the issue that has always been on my mind.
in the autumn of 2013, respectively in kazakhstan and indonesia, i proposed the building of the silk road economic belt and the 21st century maritime silk road, which i call the belt and road initiative. as a chinese saying goes, "peaches and plums do not speak, but they are so attractive that a path is formed below the trees." four years on, over 100 countries and international organizations have supported and got involved in this initiative. important resolutions passed by the un general assembly and security council contain reference to it. thanks to our efforts, the vision of the belt and road initiative is becoming a reality and bearing rich fruit.
-- these four years have seen deepened policy connectivity. i have said on many occasions that the pursuit of the belt and road initiative is not meant to reinvent the wheel. rather, it aims to complement the development strategies of countries involved by leveraging their comparative strengths. we have enhanced coordination with the policy initiatives of relevant countries, such as the eurasian economic union of russia, the master plan on asean connectivity, the bright road initiative of kazakhstan, the middle corridor initiative of turkey, the development road initiative of mongolia, the two corridors, one economic circle initiative of viet nam, the northern powerhouse initiative of the uk and the amber road initiative of poland. we are also promoting complementarity between china's development plan and those of laos, cambodia, myanmar, hungary and other countries. china has signed cooperation agreements with over 40 countries and international organizations and carried out framework cooperation on production capacity with more than 30 countries. during the forum, a number of cooperation agreements on policy connectivity and action plans will be signed. we will also launch belt and road cooperation initiative on trade connectivity together with some 60 countries and international organizations. such policy connectivity will produce a multiplying effect on cooperation among the parties involved.
-- these four years have seen enhanced infrastructure connectivity. building roads and
railways creates prosperity in all sectors. we have accelerated the building of jakarta-bandung high-speed railway, china-laos railway, addis ababa-djibouti railway and hungary-serbia railway, and upgraded gwadar and piraeus ports in cooperation with relevant countries. a large number of connectivity projects are also in the pipeline. today, a multi-dimensional infrastructure network is taking shape, one that is underpinned by economic corridors such as china-pakistan economic corridor, china-mongolia-russia economic corridor and the new eurasian continental bridge, featuring land-sea-air transportation routes and information expressway and supported by major railway, port and pipeline projects.
-- these four years have seen increased trade connectivity. china has worked with other countries involved in the belt and road initiative to promote trade and investment facilitation and improve business environment. i was told that for kazakhstan and other central asian countries alone, customs clearance time for agricultural produce exporting to china is cut by 90%. total trade between china and other belt and road countries in 2014-2016 has exceeded us$3 trillion, and china's investment in these countries has surpassed us$50 billion. chinese companies have set up 56 economic cooperation zones in over 20 countries, generating some us$1.1 billion of tax revenue and 180,000 jobs for them.
-- these four years have seen expanded financial connectivity. financing bottleneck is a key challenge to realizing connectivity. china has engaged in multiple forms of financial cooperation with countries and organizations involved in the belt and road initiative. the asian infrastructure investment bank has provided us$1.7 billion of loans for 9 projects in belt and road participating countries. the silk road fund has made us$4 billion of investment, and the 16+1 financial holding company between china and central and eastern european countries has been inaugurated. with distinctive focus, these new financial mechanisms and traditional multilateral financial institutions such as the world bank complement each other. a multi-tiered belt and road financial cooperation network has taken an initial shape.
-- these four years have seen strengthened people-to-people connectivity. friendship, which derives from close contact between the people, holds the key to sound state-to-state relations. guided by the silk road spirit, we the belt and road initiative participating countries have pulled our efforts to build the educational silk road and the health silk road, and carried out cooperation in science, education, culture, health and people-to-people exchange. such cooperation has helped lay a solid popular and social foundation for pursuing the belt and road initiative. every year, the chinese government provides 10,000 government scholarships to the relevant countries. china's local governments have also set up special silk road scholarships to encourage international cultural and educational exchanges. projects of people-to-people cooperation such as silk road culture year, tourism year, art festival, film and tv project, seminar and think tank dialogue are flourishing. these interactions have brought our people increasingly closer.
these fruitful outcomes show that the belt and road initiative responds to the trend of the times, conforms to the law of development, and meets the people's interests. it surely has broad prospects.