Unlike some western countries, we are building ‘bridges’ with other nations, says China
China has not announced who the North’s chief delegate will be, but South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said Kim Yong-jae, the North’s minister of external economic relations, would lead the delegation.
Delegates will hold a series of sessions today to discuss the plan in more detail, including trade and finance. China has given few details about attendees.
Leaders from 29 countries will attend the forum here, an event orchestrated to promote Xi’s vision of expanding links between Asia, Africa and Europe, underpinned by billions of dollars in infrastructure investment.
Some Western diplomats have expressed unease about both the summit and the plan as a whole, seeing it as an attempt to promote Chinese influence globally.
China has rejected criticism of the plan and the summit, saying the scheme is open to all, a winwin situation and aimed only at promoting prosperity.
In an English-language commentary yesterday, state-run Xinhua news agency said the new Silk Road, officially called the Belt and Road initiative, would be a boon for developing countries that had been largely neglected by the West.
It said: “As some Western countries move backwards by erecting ‘walls’, China is contriving to build bridges, both literal and metaphorical.
“These bridges are China’s important offering to the world, and a key route to improving global governance.”
Despite Chinese anger at North Korea’s repeated nuclear and missile tests, China remains the isolated state’s most important economic and diplomatic backer, even as it has signed up for tough United Nations sanctions against Pyongyang. Over the years, China has tried to coax North Korea into cautious, export-oriented economic reforms, rather than sabre rattling and nuclear tests, but to little avail. Reuters
Volunteers preparing for the Belt and Road Forum at the National Convention Centre in Beijing yesterday.