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China Increases Spending on the Silk Road

17 Mai 2017

India has opted out of China's high-profile Belt and Road Forum (Barf) summit despite Beijing's overtures to ensure New Delhi's participation.

The China-backed "Belt and Road Initiative" to create a new economic bloc based on a "new Silk Road" knitting together Eurasia by land and sea would be a "road of peace" strengthening global ties beyond old Cold War alliances, Chinese President Xi Jinping told an worldwide conference on the initiative in Beijing on May 14.

The inclusive tone of China's Belt and Road push stands in stark contrast to U.S. President Donald Trump's "America First" policy, which included the scrapping of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal, a regional trade pact involving Pacific Rim countries but excluding China.

And this week, Tanzania and the world's second economy are scheduled to ink two agreements to open Chinese markets for cassava from Tanzania and set up an industrial park and cement factory in Tanga.

Xi addressed nearly 30 leaders on the second day of a forum on his new Silk Road plan, a huge infrastructure project meant to revive ancient land and sea trade routes from Asia to Europe and Africa.

Xi said 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". Hours before Xi spoke, North Korea fired a ballistic missile, its seventh such test this year, just days after South Korea elected a president who vowed to engage with Kim Jong Un's regime. The presence of major leaders in Beijing to hear China's plans "fits with the kind of image China has been trying to project".

On Sunday, Xi pledged $124 billion to the plan, and called for abandoning old models based on rivalry and diplomatic power games.

"Individual countries need to coordinate national policies", Xi said during a speech to world leaders on the final day of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing.

The global gathering was called to promote Xi's signature foreign policy project, the One Belt, One Road initiative as the new Silk Road project is known. It boycotted the Beijing gathering because China's energy and economic corridor in Pakistan cuts through parts of Kashmir claimed by both India and Pakistan.

"No country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity", he said.

OBOR is a development strategy proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, which focuses on connectivity and cooperation between China and the rest of Eurasia, encompassing around 60 countries.

He added: "We are ready to share the experience of development with other countries".

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

The global trade projects under the Belt and Road Initiative "can be a parallel or platform for growth in the region", Duterte said in Davao City in the southeastern region of The Philippines, upon his arrival from Beijing.

But other Europeans praised Xi's project.

"Our team believes this format presents the Belt and Road in a way that simply explains an enormously complex initiative so that all audiences, foreign and Chinese, can understand", Nilsson wrote.

The grand project aims to connect Asia, Europe and Africa through a network of roads, sea links and railway lines. Most are financed by loans from Chinese state-owned banks but officials have expressed hope projects can attract private investors. They would have been carried out even if no one came up with an idea to name them One Belt, One Road.

DIPLOMATS have voiced concern over China's ambitious "new Silk Road" plan, particularly over the transparency of the multi-billion dollar project, or apparent lack thereof.

"The thrust of the Belt and Road Initiative was infrastructure, and infrastructure was an enabler, a way of getting maximum benefit from your economy".

China Increases Spending on the Silk Road