‘ALL WEL­COME

Un­like some western coun­tries, we are build­ing ‘bridges’ with other na­tions, says China

New Straits Times - - World -

BEI­JING

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

EPA PIC

Vol­un­teers pre­par­ing for the Belt and Road Fo­rum at the Na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­tre in Bei­jing yes­ter­day.

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