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Xi: New initiative needs to reject protectionism

16 Mai 2017

While some see Beijing's project as a geopolitical power-play, Xi has insisted that the Belt and Road is open to everybody.

On May 13, Xi met with Sharif at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation conference in Beijing, promising continued Chinese support in developing the China-Pakistan corridor.

China will also set up 50 joint laboratories with countries participating in the Belt and Road initiative to enhance cooperation on innovation, he said.

"The Belt and Road initiative aims to increase worldwide cooperation on the basic principles of mutual discussion, mutual construction and mutual sharing", he said, adding that the initiative, which is now in its fourth year, has made significant strides in advancing global cooperation.

At the plenary session of the Belt and Road Forum where some 29 leaders, including Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn, were in attendance, the President outlined the most ambitious plan for the "Belt and Road Initiative".

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Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Co-operation, Dr Aziz Mlima, said the implementation of the Bagamoyo Port and its associated Special Economic Zone are among issues to feature at the global forum.

Among others, the initiative seeks to build a network of infrastructure connecting China to Asia, Europe and Africa in the form of highways, bridges, sea ports and industrial parks.

Mr Xi, seated next to Russian President Vladimir Putin, was speaking at a convention centre in northern Beijing on the summit's second and final day.

According to the report, these measures are among several long-term initiatives that the Pakistan government is about to finalise with China as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) talks and its master plan.

The foreign ministry also cited concerns about the "unsustainable debt burden" China's partner countries along the route would have to bear.

No Indian official of any level was present at the elaborate opening ceremony yesterday attended by 29 heads of state and government, including Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, along with top officials of the world bodies like the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

In this way, OBOR is similar to Britain's colonial trade routes, used to take natural resources from its outposts as well as ship finished goods back to its colonial subjects, Eric Olander and Cobus van Staden at the China Africa podcast have observed. "It does not exclude or target any party", President Xi said.

North Korea, which considers China its sole major diplomatically and economic benefactor, raised eyebrows when it chose to send a delegation to the summit.

Germany said its firms are willing to support the initiative, but more transparency is needed, Reuters reported.

Nobody, it should be conceded, does it bigger or more spectacularly than China.

Chinese state-run media has spared no effort in its coverage of the summit, including broadcasting an awkwardly-named English-language music video "The Belt and Road is How" sung by children from countries on the new Silk Road.

Xi: New initiative needs to reject protectionism