China pledges $124 billion for new Silk Road as champion of globalization

The initiative would provide some of the $7 trillion of investment in infrastructure the Asian Development Bank says the region needs this decade.

Xi said China would contribute 100 billion yuan ($14.5 billion) to the Silk Road Fund, which was set up in 2014 to finance infrastructure projects and provide aid worth 60 billion yuan ($8.7 billion) to developing countries and worldwide organizations taking part in the initiative to revive the ancient trade route.

As China endeavors to push the One Belt One Road initiative off the drawing board and into reality President Xi made it clear all nations -in Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas are welcome.

Pakistan Prime Minister Sharif, his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickremesinghe, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were among the world leaders who attended the high-profile meeting.

What is China's new Silk Road? The China Development Bank alone has earmarked $890 billion for some 900 projects.

He pledged a major funding boost to the new Silk Road, including an extra 100 billion yuan (S$20 billion) 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 global bodies in nations along the new trade routes.

According to Chinese government officials, at least 28 Heads of State and Government from around the world, including the presidents of Ethiopia and Kenya, are expected to attend the two-day forum in Beijing.

Mr Xi urged "a new type of global relations" based on mutually beneficial co-operation and said "we should forge partnerships of dialogue with no confrontation and of friendship rather than alliance".

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Chilean President Michelle Bachelet meets Chinese President Xi Jinping ahead of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China May 13, 2017.

Xi said China's Belt and Road plan would be open to all.

But not all countries are roused by the China-led project. Other countries welcome the investment, but governments including the United States, Russia and India have expressed unease that Beijing also might be using the effort to increase its political stature. In his opening address, president Xi Jinping said the initiative aims to promote economic interdependence, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation.

"We should build an open platform of cooperation and uphold and grow an open world economy", Mr. Xi told the opening of the summit.

Establishment of the Havelian Dry Port in Pakistan.

The BRI has been growing since Mr Xi unveiled it in 2013, and it now has 68 countries representing 40 per cent of global GDP eager to participate.

Indian foreign ministry spokesman Gopal Baglay has said India could not accept a project that compromised its sovereignty - an oxymoronic statement considering India wants to do exactly what China is doing, except it does not have the resources or capacity to take on a global trade project.

He also pledged $8bn in aid to developing countries and worldwide organization along the belt and road for education and humanitarian work. China's main strength lies in the construction of railways, which include a 750 kilometre line linking the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa with Djibouti, and the 480km Mombasa-Nairobi railway in Kenya. "It is really grounded in certain objectives such as economic and financial realities", Rehman said.

  • Desiree Holland