Published: Sun, April 28, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Chinese president says more nations joining Belt and Road Initiative

Chinese president says more nations joining Belt and Road Initiative

The BRI is "a very good platform for worldwide cooperation, which is emerging and gaining a lot of momentum", said Ethiopian Finance Minister Ahmed Shide at a sub-forum of the second Belt and Road Forum for global Cooperation (BRF).

The fast-growing Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is bringing opportunities to countries both close to and far from the ancient Silk Road, officials from around the world said here at an ongoing worldwide forum.

Chinese President Xi Jinping promised Friday to set high standards for Beijing's sweeping infrastructure-building initiative as fellow leaders praised the effort despite worries it is saddling some countries with too much debt.

"Operate in the sun and fight corruption together with zero tolerance", Xi said.

"Qatar is among the very first countries to have supported the Belt and Road Initiative that aims for wider links between Asia, Africa and Europe". That has fueled complaints about a possible "debt trap".

European Union officials confirmed that the bloc is not considering joining China's Belt and Road initiative on Friday (26 April), contrary to what German Economic minister Peter Altmaier has previously said.

China's SOEs in the last five years have undertaken 3,116 projects distributed in 185 countries under the banner of the BRI and the contract value of the newly signed projects exceeds $500 billion, while the value of China's total overseas assets stands at upwards of $1 trillion, the report claims.

Beijing also published a list on Saturday of 283 "deliverables" that bore the Belt and Road brand name, including agreements between museums and art festivals, and even cooperation on space - a clear sign that BRI is a major soft power tool for China as well. In Malaysia, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad cancelled some planned works and renegotiated a rail project cutting 30 percent off the price tag.

To unlock that private finance and reassure investors, a recognized infrastructure asset class for Belt and Road projects must be created, with standardized contract terms and dutiful reporting that global investors will recognize and trust, Hammond told the summit.

"We must implement the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits to see that all voices are heard, all reached their full potential and all stand to benefit", the Chinese President said.

In 2017 China opened a military outpost in the in Djibouti, a small Horn of Africa nation also signed up to Belt and Road.

Finance Minister Liu Kun said at the same forum that China will build a "debt sustainability analysis framework" to prevent risks from growing out of control.

Xi said Beijing wants to encourage cooperation on health, water resources, agriculture and technology.

Mr Daniel Russel, vice-president of the US-based Asia Society Policy Institute, also said: "China's challenge now is to demonstrate that the Forum's lofty rhetoric about "Green BRI" and "Clean BRI" has been translated into action throughout the Belt and Road".

"We will have to cooperate with member countries on how to fight corruption as well as on good governance by involving different political parties of those countries", he added.

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