October 29, 2016, the 81st International Forum on China Reform and 2016
Emerging Economies Annual Thinktank Conference was held in Haikou city, Hainan
province, cosponsored by the China Institute for Reform and Development (CIRD),
the German International Cooperation (GIZ) and the United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP). Prof. Tao Yitao, vice secretary of CPC Committee of Shenzhen
University (SZU), secretary of the Discipline Inspection Commission of SZU and
director of the China Center for Special Economic Zone Research (CCSEZR) ― a
key research institute of humanities and social science of the Ministry of
Education of China, attended the forum by invitation.
Tao Yitao delivered a keynote speech in the sub-forum of "Implementing the
Belt and Road Initiative in Support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable
Development: Role and Action" and had in-depth discussions and exchanges
with renowned experts and scholars from authoritative institutions such as GIZ,
UNDP and the Development Research Center of the State Council (DRC).
Tao Yitao delivers a keynote speech centering on the Belt and Road strategy.
Tao Yitao said that the implementation of the Belt and Road initiative, whether
for China or countries along the Belt and Road route, was an issue whose
salience rested in non-economic rather than economic domains which put more
stress on culture and institution than capital and technology. Compared with
constraints from capital and technology, those from institution and culture are
the fundamental ones which are soft yet rigid. The reason is that it is the
common rules and values that define a society and determine the choice behavior
of the society or community and individuals in the society or community. An
informal institution formed in the society or community constitutes an integral
part of the institution and the culture. Therefore, building an inclusive and
exercisable system with common institutional and cultural cognition across the
institution-culture constraints should be a strategic and wise consideration
which should be taken into account prior to the implementation of the Belt and
Road initiative whether from the practical or the logical perspective.
Tao Yitao believed that the aforesaid institution-culture constraints were not
simply institutional and cultural constraints but barriers in recognizing each
other's institutional arrangements due to cultural differences like different
customs and values, and the impact of such institutional arrangements with
different cultural traits on consensus about institutional arrangement and
development of institutional environment within a wider area or a community.
All institutions have cultural traits and all cultures have institutional
To some extent, a culture is an institution
and vice versa. Different nations create different cultures in different ways
and the reverse is also true. The interplay of a nation and its culture
determines and develops the rule-making and choice behavior of the nation or
Tao Yitao further pointed out that the institutional framework of a society
must be based on evolving internal institutions which must also be the base of
rules made consciously or passed by laws and the overall institutional
framework determined by political processes. Although most internal
institutions are informal, they are rigid, affect the formal institutional
arrangements and play an important role in people's life in most circumstances.
For example, as important internal institutions, customs, habits and values
have such power and influence.
Tao Yitao exchanges ideas with renowned experts and scholars at home and
Tao Yitao put forward the following three significant viewpoints concerning the
problems, challenges and imperative tasks arising during the implementation of
the Belt and Road strategy.
the biggest bottleneck in implementing the Belt and Road strategy is lack of
relevant knowledge. Presently, an important and efficient source of help to get
us out of the trouble is regional research scholars who are proficient in local
languages and have received strict methodological training, performed field
studies in the target country over a long period of time and gained extensive
connections through years of tracking studies. The biggest constraint lies in
poor knowledge about the cultural or internal institutions of countries along
the Belt and Road route, including customs, habits, values and cultural
beliefs. In other words, barriers in recognizing different internal
institutions significantly impede the conclusion of formal institutional
arrangements within a regional community. For example, the Myitsone Dam project
in Myanmar is halted and construction of the China-Pakistan economic corridor
to transform our concept is important in implementing the Belt and Road
strategy. Due to historical reasons, the central government has absolute
authority and power and there is a strong command and obedience relationship
between the central and local governments in China. China's experience of
nearly 40 years in reform and opening up proves that the "whole
nation" system is effective and successful, which boasts incomparable efficiency
and advantages in pooling and leveraging scarce resources, mobilizing the
public to participate in key construction projects in a fast manner and solving
collective problems in a uniform and efficient fashion. However, we cannot deal
with and implement the Belt and Road projects in a Chinese way based on such
thinking habits, particularly large projects in direct contact with the
interests of local inhabitants and even their cultural beliefs. We must act in accordance with laws and
international common practices to guarantee efficiency and interests and must
not seek quick success and instant benefits in order to reach mutual consensus
with patience and achieve a win-win situation with mutual understanding. This
is the rational way we should adopt to deal with the Belt and Road projects.
to build mutual trust is the most urgent task in implementation of the Belt and
Road strategy. Mutual trust between countries can be built by recognition of
the culture and values of each other. Mutual recognition of culture and values
is not simply convergence or rejection between two cultures but a process to
achieve win-win outcomes with mutual respect, to develop with mutual tolerance
and to seek common improvements by learning from an advanced culture. In
essence, nothing will be more favorable for the cultivation of mutual trust
between countries than mutual understanding and emotional connections.
closing ceremony, Prof. Tao Yitao presented the CIRD with a painting named
"Pengcheng Wanli" (a connotation of bright future) to celebrate its
25th anniversary on behalf of SZU and CCSEZR ― a key research institute of
humanities and social science of the Ministry of Education of China.
Tao Yitao presents a painting named "Pengcheng Wanli" (a connotation
of bright future) to celebrate the 25th anniversary of CIRD.
Tao Yitao and Mr. Chi Fulin, president of CIRD (third from left)
Tao Yitao and Mr. Lv Ningsi, a famous anchorman from Phoenix Satellite
Television (fourth from left)
the forum, Prof. Tao Yitao and her party from SZU visited the historical museum
of Hainan Special Economic Zone and had in-depth discussions on the historical
reasons for differences in the development of special economic zones and their
enlightening significance to China's SEZ development and the course of reform
and opening up.
Prof. Tao Yitao and
her party from SZU visit the historical museum of Hainan Special Economic Zone.