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China's Xi pledges $14.5 billion for 'Belt and Road' globalization initiative

Eleena Tovar | 15 May, 2017, 19:59

A total of 68 countries, including Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and worldwide organisations have signed Belt and Road cooperation agreements with China, he said addressing the media.

The forum is the highest-level meeting on the Belt and Road Initiative since it was put forward by Xi in 2013.

"We should build an open platform of cooperation and uphold and grow an open world economy", Xi said.

"We are of the firm belief that connectivity initiatives must be based on universally recognised worldwide norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality", said the Ministry of External Affairs.

The Chinese government is investing tens of billions of dollars as part of an ambitious economic plan to rebuild ports, roads and rail networks.

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 worldwide bodies in countries along the new trade routes.

In addition, Xi said China would encourage financial institutions to expand their overseas yuan fund businesses to the tune of 300bn yuan.

During the address, Xi pledged to pump in an additionalUSD 124 billion for projects that are part of the initiative. The forum is is attended by representativesof 100 nations, besides the 29 heads of state and government.

While Trump railed against China's trade policies during the United States election, he has nurtured friendly ties with Xi and his envoy to the summit said USA companies were ready to get involved in the Silk Road.

The summit is showcasing Xi's cherished One Belt, One Road initiative, a revival of the ancient Silk Road trading routes that could cement China's growing global clout on trade and geopolitics.

The China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China will set up special lending schemes respectively worth 250 billion yuan (about 36.2 billion USA dollars) equivalent and 130 billion yuan (about 18.8 billion U.S. dollars) equivalent to support the initiative, he said.

"The BRI was proposed in 2013, and four years on, over 100 countries around the world and global organisations have supported and got involved in this initiative".

The Belt and Road Initiative, consisting of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, was proposed by Xi to boost interconnectivity and free trade between Asia and the rest of the world.

Finance ministries from 27 countries - including China - have approved a set of principles that will now guide project financing along the new Silk Road.

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.

"In order for the participating countries along the Belt and Road to fully benefit from the potential of enhanced connectivity, it is crucial to strengthen the links between the Initiative and the Sustainable Development Goals", Guterres noted, adding that the 17 Goals can guide the policies and actions under the Belt and Road towards true sustainable development.

Despite the advantages of the Chinese initiative, opinions about it differ, some politicians and experts say that Beijing is trying to strengthen its geopolitical influence through "One Belt, One Way" project.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif received unprecedented importance as meeting with his Chinese counterpart lasted twice longer than other leaders.

Chinese state-run media has covered the summit widely, including broadcasting an English-language music video "The Belt and Road is How" sung by children from countries on the new Silk Road.