Date
22 October 2017
Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with British Prime Minister Theresa May on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hangzhou in September. Photo: Reuters
Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with British Prime Minister Theresa May on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hangzhou in September. Photo: Reuters

China invites Britain to attend Silk Road summit

China has invited British Prime Minister Theresa May to attend a major summit in May on its “One Belt, One Road” initiative to build a new Silk Road, Reuters reports, citing diplomatic sources.

May is scheduled to visit China this year,

“One Belt, One Road” is Chinese President Xi Jinping’s landmark program to invest billions of dollars in infrastructure projects including railways, ports and power grids across Asia, Africa and Europe.

China has dedicated US$40 billion to a Silk Road Fund and the idea was the driving force behind the establishment of the US$50 billion China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

China has so far given few details about who will attend the summit to be held in Beijing.

The country’s top diplomat, State Councillor Yang Jiechi, told the official China Daily last week that leaders from about 20 countries have confirmed their participation, representing Asia, Europe, Africa and Latin America, although he did not give names.

One Beijing-based diplomatic source with direct knowledge of the invite list told Reuters that May was among the leaders who had been invited.

“China is choosing the countries it sees as friends and who will be most influential in promoting ‘One Belt, One Road’,” said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Two other diplomatic sources confirmed May was on the invite list.

“It’s China’s most important diplomatic event of the year,” one of the sources told Reuters.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said plans for the summit are proceeding smoothly, and that details of the participants will be announced at a later date.

Sri Lanka has already confirmed its prime minister is coming, and China says Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is also attending.

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