November 19 2017

China's Xi appeals to foreign leaders for freer trade

November 19 2017, 01:05 | Clarence Walton

Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a news conference at the end of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing China

Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a news conference at the end of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing China

Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged today 8.7-billion-USD assistance for developing countries and global organizations under the Belt and Road Initiative.

Xi said the world must create conditions that promote open development and encourage the building of systems of "fair, reasonable and transparent global trade and investment rules".

The China Development Bank has earmarked $890 billion for some 900 projects.

In addition, Xi said China would encourage financial institutions to expand their overseas yuan fund businesses to the tune of 300 billion yuan. It is more important to analyze which fields the new loans are funding.

"Unprofitable investments are not good for anybody", said Andras Vertes, chairman of GKI Economic Research.

The two-day Belt and Road Forum is being attended by leaders from 29 countries, including Pakistan, has been boycotted by India due to sovereignty concerns over the United States dollars 50 billion CPEC. New rail lines from Europe to China have been launched, while Beijing has built and upgraded gas pipelines in Central Asia, ports in Pakistan and Sri Lanka and started on high speed rail links with Laos and Thailand.

Others at the summit warned sustainable lending practices were needed to ensure countries hosting the hundreds of projects were not saddled with unsustainable debts.

Chinese officials insist the initiative is purely commercial, but foreign diplomats and political analysts also see an effort by the Communist Beijing government to promote its ambitions of rewriting global rules on trade and security and to reduce the USA presence in Asia. The country's minister of economic affairs and energy, Brigitte Zypries, called for greater transparency in tenders, adherence to worldwide standards, and the creation of a level playing field for all companies and countries involved, after expressing concerns that the tenders could all be snapped up by Chinese firms.

He said, "We applaud China for taking this historic initiative, which now has the complete ownership of all participating countries". One, we are harmonising national development plans with the CPEC.

"We are awaiting a positive response from the Chinese side", he added.

The key priority for Unicef is to reduce inequality, and to cooperate with China on this issue, Lake said. "At the same time, dialogue and communication with nations outside the belt-road routes is necessary to dispel misapprehensions". The US investment firm Exotix Partners noted that investors in host countries would need to consider whether the infrastructure being developed was useful for the local economy and what costs would be.

China touted yesterday its new Silk Road as "a project of the century" at a summit highlighting its growing leadership on globalisation, but a North Korean missile test intruded on the meeting.

"It (Belt and Road) has bright future for development", she said, adding that the venture received a "very warm response" from the worldwide community. Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and Kenya's president Uhuru Kenyatta are among the leaders in attendance.

There were also several European leaders attending, including the prime ministers of Spain, Italy, Greece and Hungary.

While the summit has been given nearly non-stop coverage on Chinese state-run television, attention at the event was distracted by North Korea's latest missile test on Sunday.

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