30 leaders reaffirm their commitment to Belt and Road

China signed cooperation deals with 68 countries and worldwide organisations during the two-day forum, yielding a list of 270 deliverables in areas such as policy coordination, infrastructure building, trade, investment and finance.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said Sunday the Belt and Road Initiative focuses on the Asian, European and African countries, but is also open to all other countries.

The initiative has "entered a new era as it is in full swing", with 68 nations and global organizations signing cooperation agreements with the host, Xi said.

Xi said the Belt and Road initiative is "a project of the century" that will benefit people across the world.

But Zhao Hong observes that China sees the Belt and Road initiative domestically as a top-priority geopolitical strategy.

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In an attempt to place himself as a contrast to US President Donald Trump, who has vowed to put "America First" and supported bilateral trade deals over multilateral engagements, Xi said: "We need to seek results through greater openness and cooperation, avoid fragmentation, refrain from setting inhibitive thresholds for cooperation or pursuing exclusive arrangements, and reject protectionism".

While some projects under the Belt and Road banner are clearly defined, others remain vague, and although investment in infrastructure across Asia is vast, calculating the precise value of the initiative is hard.

At the gathering, China pledged $124 billion in funding for the Belt and Road.

Chinese President Xi Jinping used the forum to pledge an extra $122bn for global infrastructure schemes.

Aziz also praised the Chinese leadership for proposing the BRI.

Palestinian delegate Adnan Samara told Reuters that for him the Belt and Road meant not only economic solutions for his homeland, but political ones too.

Describing Beijing as the world's top infrastructure developer, Zhuang Guotu, head of the Center of Southeast Asian Studies at Xiamen University, was quoted by the Global Times, as saying that China offers huge potential in terms of technical support to other countries in this particular sphere. They are also concerned about transparency and access for foreign firms to the scheme. But governments have expressed concern Beijing might use "Belt and Road" to promote Chinese exports by encouraging its neighbors to adopt China's industrial standards for railways and other goods.

The U.S. Commerce Department said in a statement on May 11 that "the United States recognizes the importance of China's One Belt and One Road initiative".

"It is my belief that Britain, lying at the western end of the Belt and Road, is a natural partner in this endeavor. It's still very general, it's the umbrella for many other projects and initiatives".

  • Leroy Wright