Chinese President Xi Jinping touted today China’s new Silk Road as “a project of the century” at a summit highlighting its growing leadership on globalisation.
“We should build an open platform of cooperation and uphold and grow an open world economy,” Xi told the opening of the two-day gathering in Beijing attended by leaders and top officials from around the world.
The summit is showcasing Xi’s cherished One Belt, One Road initiative, a revival of the Silk Road that could cement China’s growing global clout on trade and geopolitics as US President Donald Trump promotes “America First” and questions existing global free trade deals.
Xi pledged to pump an extra US$124 billion (RM537 billion) in funds into the initiative, calling it “a project of the century” in a “world fraught with challenges”.
The Chinese-bankrolled project seeks to link the country with Africa, Asia and Europe through an enormous network of ports, railways, roads and industrial parks.
The initiative spans some 65 countries representing 60% of the world population and around a third of global gross domestic product. The China Development Bank has earmarked US$890 billion for some 900 projects.
Leaders from 29 countries are attending 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 Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, a close Chinese ally, praised China’s “vision and ingenuity”.
“Such a broad sweep and scale of interlocking economic partnerships and investments is unprecedented in history. We stand at the cusp of a geo-economic revolution,” Sharif said.
Praising Xi’s initiative, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that “protectionism is becoming the norm”.
“The ideas of openness, trade freedom are rejected more and more, very often by those who were their supporters not so long ago.”
Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Belt and Road is “going to be the kind of initiative that will put an end to terrorism”. — Agencies