China pledges $124b for new Silk Road, says open to everyone

India refused to send an official delegation to Beijing, reflecting displeasure with China for developing a $57 billion trade corridor through Pakistan that also crosses the disputed territory of Kashmir.

India skipped the meeting due to its sovereignty concerns over the Dollars 50 billion CPEC, which goes through Pakistan- occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Few Western leaders will attend, although the prime ministers of Italy, Spain, and Greece are expected.

President Xi Jinping has painted a rosy picture as he sought to woo countries on board his grand "Belt and Road Initiative" to boost worldwide trade and investment, offering at least 780 billion yuan (US$113 billion) in extra funding for the ambitious plan. White House adviser Matt Pottinger explained that the US supports China's efforts to promote integration and development through its Belt and Road project, Reuters revealed.

At the opening ceremony, Xi promised to provide $8.70 billion in aid to countries and global organizations that participate in the Silk Road plan.

The meeting called the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) is being attended by 29 heads of state and governments including Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif and his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickrmasinghe, besides official delegations from other South Asian countries.

"US firms can offer the best-value goods and services required over the life of a project", said Pottinger, who is special assistant to Trump and the National Security Council's senior director for East Asia. What characterized our cooperation with China is China's non-intervention in our internal affairs.

"The ancient silk routes thrived in times of peace, but lost vigour in times of war".

Sharif said the Belt and Road "rejected the encirclement for any country".

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"We should foster a new type of worldwide relations featuring win-win cooperation; and we should forge partnerships of dialogue with no confrontation and of friendship rather than alliance", he said.

It will also provide aid worth 60 billion yuan (£6.7 billion) to developing countries and worldwide organisations taking part in the initiative to revive the ancient trade route.

Mr Xi also pledged a major funding boost to the new Silk Road, including an extra 100 billion yuan (S$20.3 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 worldwide bodies in nations along the new trade routes.

The Belt and Road Initiative - a plan Xi unveiled in 2013 to build infrastructure and expand trade across countries in Asia, Africa and Europe - has been welcomed by cash-starved emerging countries.

He announced the creation of an American Belt and Road Working Group with representatives of the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and American companies.

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

Mr Xi also said the new Silk Road would be open to all, including Africa and the Americas, which are not situated on the traditional Silk Road.

He said that the Silk Road spirit has become a great heritage of human civilization.

The B&R includes a maze of roads and port projects. While CPEC is highlighted as "flagship project", the B&R includes the Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor, New Eurasian Land Bridge, China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor, China-Indochina Peninsula Economic Corridor and 21st century Maritime Silk Road.

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  • Jack Mann