Chinese President Xi Jinping announced Sunday that China will invest $124 billion in a massive global trade project — the Belt and Road initiative.
China is hosting a two-day summit meeting on the Belt and Road in Beijing. The project, which envisions the creation of a land-based Silk Road Economic Belt and sea-based Maritime Silk Road, expands China’s global leadership and encourages international development. Leaders from 29 countries, as well as numerous delegates, are in attendance at the gathering in Beijing.
“We should build an open platform of cooperation and uphold and grow an open world economy,” Xi said at the meeting, according to Reuters. In contrast with some of the policies of the new U.S. administration, China has been actively promoting globalization. The Belt and Road project is designed to facilitate the development of major trade routes across multiple continents, with all roads leading back to China.
“China is willing to share its development experience with all countries,” Jinping said. “We will not interfere in other countries’ internal affairs. We will not export our system of society and development model, and even more will not impose our views on others,” Jinping explained to those in attendance. “In advancing the Belt and Road, we will not re-tread the old path of games between foes. Instead, we will create a new model of cooperation and mutual benefit.”
The funding promised by China’s president involves a donation to the existing Silk Road Fund, loans from policy banks, and aid to developing countries. First announced in 2013, the Belt and Road initiative has been little more than an idea. The ongoing meeting offers the Chinese government the opportunity to provide a clearer explanation of its vision for the trade project.
China plans to import $2 trillion in products over the next five years from the participating countries, Commerce Minister Zhong Shan revealed at the summit. Finance ministers from 27 countries approved a set of financing principles for the Belt and Road.
While the Belt and Road has been presented as China’s response to the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia,” the Trump administration has been more receptive, even offering to send a delegation to represent the U.S. at the summit. White House adviser Matt Pottinger explained that the U.S. supports China’s efforts to promote integration and development through its Belt and Road project, Reuters revealed.
The Belt and Road initiative is presented as China’s gift to the world, but some observers remain skeptical and suspicious of Chinese intentions, with some arguing that the aim is to boost Chinese development at a time when China’s economic growth is slowing. Critics also contend that China intends to export its overcapacity.
While representatives in attendance at the summit were supportive, some suggested that there is a pressing need for greater transparency.
The project covers roughly 65 percent of the world’s population, 75 percent of its energy resources, and 40 percent of its GDP. Some observers have described the Belt and Road as the largest development push in history, yet there are still concerns over certain financing and security issues.
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