China on Sunday described its new Silk Road as “a project of the century” and offered 100 billion yuan for projects that are part of its ambitious initiative linking the country to much of Asia, Europe and Africa.
“We should build an open platform of cooperation and uphold and grow an open world economy,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said in his opening address outlining China’s vision.
He said China would contribute an additional 100 billion yuan (USD 14.5 billion) to the Silk Road Fund, which was set up in 2014 to finance infrastructure projects, taking it to USD 55 billion and USD 8.75 billion financial assistance to the countries taking part in his Belt and Road initiative aimed at expanding China’s influence and global connectivity.
Xi said the Belt and Road initiative is “a project of the century” that will benefit people across the world.
“We should foster a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation; and we should forge partnerships of dialogue with no confrontation and of friendship rather than alliance,” he said, adding that Belt and Road initiative focuses on the Asian, European and African countries, but is also open to all other countries.
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He said China will provide assistance worth 60 billion yuan (USD 8.7 billion) to developing nations and international organizations participating in the Belt and Road initiative to launch more projects to improve people’s well-being.
China will also set up 50 joint laboratories with countries participating in the Belt and Road initiative to enhance cooperation on innovation, he said.Also China will encourage financial institutions to conduct overseas RMB fund business with an estimated amount of 300 billion yuan (about USD 43.5 billion), Xi said.
Named after the historic Silk Road, the Belt and Road initiative was proposed by Xi in 2013 to chart out new territories for international cooperation.
India skipped the meeting due to its sovereignty concerns over the USD 50 billion CPEC, which goes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). However, few Indian scholars attended the opening session of the two-day “Belt and Road” conference in Beijing that brought together leaders from 29 countries.
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Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickramasinge, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were among the world leaders who attended the high-profile meeting.
The United States sent a delegation led by Matt Pottinger, special assistant to the president and senior director for Asia at the National Security Council.
Other delegates include officials, entrepreneurs and financiers from over 130 countries, and representatives of key international organisations such as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, and International Monetary Fund Director Christine Lagarde.
The B&R includes a maze of roads and port projects. While CPEC is highlighted as “flagship project”, the B&R included Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor, New Eurasian Land Bridge, China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor, China-Indochina Peninsula Economic Corridor and 21st century Maritime Silk Road.