20 February 2019
Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers his speech during the welcoming banquet for the Belt and Road Forum at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Sunday. Photo: Reuters
Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers his speech during the welcoming banquet for the Belt and Road Forum at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Sunday. Photo: Reuters

China pledges US$124 bln for new Silk Road plan

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday pledged US$124 billion for his new Silk Road plan and called for a more open and inclusive world order and improved free trade.

At a Belt and Road forum attended by leaders and top officials from around the world, Xi called for the abandonment of old models based on rivalry and diplomatic power games, Reuters reports.

“We should build an open platform of cooperation and uphold and grow an open world economy,” the Chinese leader was quoted as saying at the opening of the two-day gathering in Beijing.

The world must create conditions that promote open development and encourage the building of systems of “fair, reasonable and transparent global trade and investment rules”, Xi said.

China has touted what it formally calls the Belt and Road initiative as a new way to boost global development since Xi unveiled the plan in 2013, aiming to expand global trade links.

Xi pledged a major funding boost to the new Silk Road, including an extra 100 billion yuan into the existing Silk Road Fund, 380 billion yuan in loans from two policy banks and 60 billion yuan in aid to developing countries and international bodies in countries along the new trade routes.

In addition, China will encourage financial institutions to expand their overseas yuan fund businesses to the tune of 300 billion yuan.

Xi did not give a time frame for the new loans, aid and funding pledged on Sunday.

Leaders from 29 countries attended the forum, as well as the heads of the United Nations, International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

Britain’s finance minister told the summit his country was a “natural partner” in the new Silk Road, while the prime minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, a close Chinese ally, praised China’s “vision and ingenuity”.

White House adviser Matt Pottinger said the US welcomes efforts by China to promote infrastructure connectivity as part of its Belt and Road initiative, and that US firms can offer top value services.

India refused to send an official delegation to Beijing, reflecting displeasure with China for developing a US$57 billion trade corridor through Pakistan that also crosses the disputed territory of Kashmir.

China plans to import US$2 trillion of products from countries participating in its Belt and Road initiative over the next five years, Commerce Minister Zhong Shan said.

“China is willing to share its development experience with all countries,” Xi 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.”

“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,” Xi said.

The new Silk Road would be open to all, including Africa and the Americas, which are not situated on the traditional Silk Road, he said.

The idea of cooperation and inclusiveness extends to funding projects and investments along the new trade routes, which are being developed both on land and at sea.

At the forum, finance ministries from 27 countries, including China, approved a set of principles that will guide project financing along the new Silk Road, according to the report.

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