BEIJING, April 22 (Xinhua) -- The Belt and Road (B&R) countries have carried out diplomatic activities and cultural exchanges of various forms in wide fields over the past five years or so, enhancing mutual understanding and recognition and laying a solid cultural foundation for furthering the initiative, according to a report released Monday on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)'s progress, contributions and prospects.
China and other B&R countries have conducted diverse forms of cultural exchange, including hosting arts festivals, film festivals, music festivals, cultural relics exhibitions, and book fairs. They have jointly launched new publishing, radio, film and television programs, as well as translating and introducing each other's media programs, said the report.
Fruitful results in education and training have been achieved. The Chinese Government Scholarship - Silk Road Program has been set up, and China has signed agreements with 24 B&R countries on the mutual recognition of higher education degrees. In 2017, 38,700 students from other B&R countries studied in China on scholarships provided by the Chinese government, accounting for 66 percent of all students receiving such scholarships, according to the report.
China has expanded cooperation with other B&R countries in tourism. China has signed mutual visa exemption agreements for different types of passport with 57 B&R countries, and concluded 19 agreements or arrangements to streamline visa application procedures with 15 countries.
Deeper cooperation in health and medicine has been achieved between China and other B&R countries. Since the first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, China has signed 56 agreements on cooperation in the health sector with countries such as Mongolia and Afghanistan, international organizations such as the World Health Organization, and NGOs such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said the report.
Ongoing effort has been made in disaster relief, assistance, and poverty alleviation. Since the first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, China has provided 2 billion yuan (298 million U.S. dollars) in emergency food assistance to developing countries participating in the initiative, injected an additional 1 billion U.S. dollars to the South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund and implemented 100 Happy Home Projects, 100 Anti-Poverty Projects, and 100 Health Recovery Projects.
The report, prepared by the office of the leading group for promoting the BRI, was released ahead of the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation to be held from April 25 to 27 in Beijing.