President Xi Jinping has said China is willing to give other countries a "sense of gain" in the multi-billion dollar Silk Road project, amid international concerns over its strategic importance and talks of the project being caught in a web of border disputes.
President Xi Jinping has said China is willing to give other countries a “sense of gain” in the multi-billion dollar Silk Road project, amid international concerns over its strategic importance and talks of the project being caught in a web of border disputes.
The high-profile project – subsequently renamed as One Belt, One Road (OBOR) – is backed by a $40-billion special fund and was launched by Xi in 2013.
The Chinese president’s signature initiative aims to revive an ancient trading route linking China and Europe, via Central Asia and the Middle East, as well as a path through Southeast Asia and Africa.
At a meeting of government officials, entrepreneurs and scholars here yesterday, Xi said China is willing to give other countries “a ride” and a “sense of gain” as it renews ties with the countries along the Silk Road initiative.
He goaded Chinese firms to invest in countries along the routes of the OBOR project and said China being the world’s second-largest economy should be “more proactive” in dealing with other countries.
The project is touted as China’s biggest strategic initiative to move out its manufacturing and construction prowess backed by over $3.20 trillion foreign reserves.
It initially evoked interest among smaller countries to get project financing but has since faced constraints ranging from border disputes to Beijing’s strategic intentions and Chinese labour being used for early completion of the projects leading to fewer employment opportunities for local people.
While the OBOR has projects involving a maze of road, rail and shipping routes, its biggest project, the $46-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has faced protest from India as it is passes through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
India’s objections to the project were highlighted again during last week’s talks between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in New Delhi.
India’s concern over China’s strategic intentions has cast a shadow on its 21st Maritime Silk Road projects in the Indian Ocean where Beijing made big investments in port projects in Sri Lanka.
Xi said more than 100 countries and global organisations have participated in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and more than 20 countries have worked with China in production capacity cooperation in such areas as railway construction and nuclear power.
He urged the implementation of the projects to ensure that the countries involved have “a sense of gain.”
Xi stressed that more specific Belt and Road policies should be worked out and major support should be focused on strategic projects including facilities cooperation, energy resource use and core technology research and development.
Domestic enterprises are encouraged to invest in countries along the Belt and Road and countries along the routes are welcome to do business in China, Xi said.
The export of China’s production and construction capacity could support the Belt and Road countries to push forward industrialisation and will help to stabilise the world economy, state-run China Daily quoted him as saying.
The Silk Road Economic Belt is a land-based route from China through Central Asia and Russia to Europe.
The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road is a strategic route through the Strait of Malacca to India, the Middle East and East Africa.
In a bid to promote OBOR, Xi has made state visits to a number of countries, including the Czech Republic, Serbia, Poland and Uzbekistan this year.
More than 30 countries and international organisations have signed agreements and memorandums of understanding with China on jointly implementing the Belt and Road strategy, the report said.
As part of the Belt and Road projects, freight trains have made more than 2,000 trips from China to Europe and back on 39 rail lines, it said.