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With $78 Billion Pledge, Xi Opens China Globalization Forum

With $78 Billion Pledge, Xi Opens China Globalization Forum
His ambition to lead it during a speech inaugurating his cornerstone diplomatic trade initiative for a new Silk Road was laid down by Chinese President Xi Jinping as he laid the framework for Chinese-style globalization.
A "project of the century" that had its inspiration in the ancient trade routes linking the country with the world was the description given by Xi for the plan that is grounding in China’s history. He pledged 60 billion yuan in coming years to developing countries and international organizations that join the program, 380 billion yuan in new lending for participating nations and an additional 100 billion yuan ($14.5 billion) for China’s Silk Road Fund.
Calling his initiative a force for peace in "a world fraught with challenges," Xi repeated his call for multilateral trade. Countries should "uphold and grow an open world economy", he told the almost two dozen world leaders gathered at the forum.
Since President Donald Trump’s election, most notably in a January speech in Davos, the speech built on an image of Xi as a champion of global free trade that he sought to hone.
"They see an opportunity to fill the vacuum and take advantage of perceptions globally," said Andrew Gilholm, director of analysis for North Asia at Control Risks Group, referring to changing perceptions of U.S. leadership in the Trump era. The presence of major leaders in Beijing to hear China’s plans "fits with the kind of image China has been trying to project."
Including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the assembled delegates included representatives from more than 100 countries and heads of state. Matt Pottinger, senior director for Asia on the National Security Council and special assistant to Trump was sent by the U.S.
While Putin called the initiative "timely and promising" while highlighting the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union, Erdogan pledged support for China’s initiative while showcasing their own regional projects. He would like Turkey’s planned infrastructure expansion to be linked with the Belt and Road and that the world’s economic center of gravity was shifting to the East, Erdogan told delegates.
Stressing the country’s desire for new global trade ties as it prepares to leave the European Union, U.K. finance minister Philip Hammond called the initiative "truly groundbreaking".
Xi declared that the plan would be open to all countries and would complement each nation’s development goals while addressing concerns that the initiative will become a bonanza for Chinese companies or a strategic play for regional domination. Saying the initiative won’t resort to "outdated geopolitical maneuvering", the speech also drew implicit contrast between Chinese-style development objectives and those of the West. while calling for mutual respect of one another’s sovereignty, territory and "core interests", he also stressed that China doesn’t seek to export its development model to other nations.

It was in 2013 that Xi had first proposed the initiative and then it was known as the Silk Road. According to the official Xinhua News Agency, China’s investment in Belt and Road countries has surpassed $50 billion. as much as $502 billion into 62 countries over five years could be the total worth of investments that could be funneled by the plan, Credit Suisse Group AG estimates.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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