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Belt and Road summiteers swear by open trade centred around WTO

21 May 2017

Xi, who has heralded his Belt and Road initiative as a "project of the century", said in a televised closing address in Beijing that his plan to link China with the world via ancient trade routes would address economic challenges and promote globalization.

Yu Jianhua, vice minister of commerce, met with the heads of global organizations, including the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), on Monday and signed agreements with them on behalf of the Chinese government.

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". "The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as part of the Belt and Road is not about conflicts with various countries and will not affect China's position on Kashmir issue", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said.

"We have been urging China to engage in a meaningful dialogue", the Indian statement said.

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His comments were made on the last day of a high-profile summit on the Belt and Road initiative that took place in Beijing.

Mining major Rio Tinto (LN:RIO) sees an opportunity in China's large-scale "Belt and Road Initiative" that was launched with great fanfare on the weekend. It was important to expanding trade and investment based on a level playing field, they said. "China's economy has come a long way from relying exclusively on industry for growth - it is still primarily a manufacturing- and export-focused economy, but this is changing". For instance, India has some issues with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, an OBOR land-corridor project (with a $46 billion investment from China) that partially runs through contested territory in Kashmir.

He told the nearly two dozen world leaders gathered at the forum that countries should "uphold and grow an open world economy".

Hailed by Xi as a "project of the century", the plan fits into his bigger narrative that China is setting an example of globalization, filling the void left by the USA under Donald Trump's "America First" policy.

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"Manufacturing will open up economies of countries along the belt and road, create employment and reduce inequality", said the Chinese leader.

"That said, there is still a long way to go, as the Belt and Road is a long-term undertaking". They are also concerned about transparency and access for foreign firms to the scheme.

Pakistan and China have inked new deals worth almost $500 million, which now cover airport, port and highway construction.

The plan focuses on promoting policy, financial integration, closer people-to-people ties, joint contribution and shared benefits to all participating countries.

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Belt and Road summiteers swear by open trade centred around WTO