At the recent Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiled several new initiatives and investments. These developments include plans to expedite the launch of the China-Europe express railway service and to bolster the development of the Trans-Caspian corridor. Chinese companies will also make substantial investments in the infrastructure of the maritime and air segments of the New Silk Road. President Xi has emphasised China’s commitment to supporting an open global economy. Over the next five years, China anticipates a significant increase in foreign trade, with projections of up to $32 trillion in goods and up to $5 trillion in services.
To facilitate this growth, China is determined to establish fresh agreements on free trade and investment. Furthermore, they aim to create pilot zones that foster cooperation in e-commerce. President Xi has also pledged to further relax constraints on foreign investment within China’s manufacturing sector. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has made significant strides in its ten years since launch. It has garnered participation from over 150 countries, resulting in trade turnover within the BRI framework exceeding $19 trillion. Bilateral investments between participating nations have totalled $380 billion, with the lion’s share originating from Chinese companies. This extensive collaboration has spawned over 3,000 infrastructure cooperation projects.
To sustain this cooperative effort, China will extend financial support through the Exim Bank of China and the China Development Bank, which will allocate 350 billion yuan ($48.75 billion) in preferential loans, with a primary focus on trade and infrastructure development. Additionally, the Silk Road Fund, designed to facilitate increased investment along the BRI, will receive an additional 80 billion yuan ($11 billion). This fund, uniquely a geo-economic strategic entity, is dedicated to providing financial assistance to less affluent countries, often secured against natural resources.
In addition to these financing initiatives, the Silk Road Fund has strategically acquired equity stakes in a range of projects, generating dividend returns to fund further capital investments. Notable examples include participation in infrastructure and energy projects in countries like Kenya, Pakistan, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, and Italy. China’s heightened emphasis on developing a green economy is another prominent feature. China is committed to fostering collaboration in clean energy, transport, and infrastructure and intends to incorporate green investment principles into the Belt and Road Initiative. Furthermore, China is keen on expanding scientific, technical, and innovative collaboration. This includes plans to raise the number of joint laboratories to 100 and to invite young scientists from other nations to participate in short-term projects within China. These collective endeavours signify China’s resolute commitment to advancing the Belt and Road Initiative, promoting economic cooperation, and fostering sustainable and innovative development across participating countries.
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