Xi pledges $174 billion for Silk Road plan

Posted May 16, 2017

China's most ambitious economic and foreign policy projects, the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative, also referred to as the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, has been cause for Indian anxiety for some time now.

Tanaka Chitsa CorrespondentGLOBAL leaders will meet in mid-May to discuss a new Chinese-led initiative to develop a seamless infrastructure network connecting Asia, Europe and Africa.

BRI calls for building ports, railways and other facilities in a huge swath of 65 countries, which has unnerved some governments.

In addition, Xi pledged about additional $14 billion for the construction of the Belt and Road project, of which CPEC is the chief component.

Pakistan Prime Minister Sharif, his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickremesinghe, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were among the world leaders who attended the high-profile meeting.

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The trade volume between China and other Belt and Road countries from 2014 to 2016 exceeded $3 trillion, and China's investment in these countries has surpassed $50 billion.

One of the criticisms of the Silk Road plan is that host countries may struggle to pay back loans for huge infrastructure projects being carried out and funded by Chinese companies and banks.

"We should jointly create an environment that will facilitate opening up and development, establish a fair, equitable and transparent system of global trade and investment rules", Mr Xi said.

Xi said the initiative focuses on the Asian, European and African nations, but is open to all other countries.

As a two-day summit on the project in Beijing wound up, the 30 nations also agreed to promote a rules-based, non-discriminatory trading system with the World Trade Organization at its core and to oppose protectionism, according to a joint communique signed by their leaders.

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"We should foster a new type of worldwide relations featuring win-win cooperation; and we should forge partnerships of dialogue with no confrontation and of friendship rather than alliance", Xi said.

Xi wants to forge a path of peace, inclusiveness and free trade, and called for the abandonment of old models based on rivalry and diplomatic power games. "We'll see what happens tomorrow", she said in a briefing with the press on the sidelines of the summit. This is another area the Trump administration has made a decision to eschew, potentially further strengthening China's global position.

A top Venezuelan diplomat has expressed support for China's Belt and Road Initiative, also known as the Silk Road Economic Belt, urging non-member countries to avoid sabotaging the project.

China is contriving to build bridges, both literal and metaphorical, which are a great offering to the world and we have no doubt in saying that no conspiracy can deter its resolve to backtrack from its visionary initiative.

Rounding-off the opening ceremony as the final speaker, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, said the Silk Road project has "immense potential... far-reaching in geography and ambition". Chinese banks have set up 62 branches and offices in 26 countries along the BRI routes in the past four years, he said.

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