15 May 2017

China invests $124bn in Belt and Road global project

11:18 am on 15 May 2017

The Chinese government is investing tens of billions of dollars as part of an ambitious economic plan to rebuild ports, roads and rail networks.

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaking at the One Belt, One Road international forum.

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaking at the One Belt, One Road international forum in China. Photo: AFP

China's President Xi Jinping has pledged $124 billion for the scheme, known as the Belt and Road initiative.

The project would see China build massive amounts of infrastructure worldwide to boost trade.

"Trade is the important engine of economic development," Mr Xi said at a summit of world leaders in Beijing.

The plan, which aims to expand trade links between Asia, Africa, Europe and beyond, was first unveiled in 2013.

Part of the massive funding boost, which is aimed at strengthening China's links with its trading partners, includes $9bn in aid to developing countries and international institutions that form part of the Belt and Road project.

Mr Xi used his speech to assure Western diplomats that the plan, described as the new Silk Road, was not simply an attempt to promote Chinese influence globally.

"In advancing the Belt and Road, we will not retread the old path of games between foes. Instead we will create a new model of cooperation and mutual benefit," Mr Xi said.

"We should build an open platform of cooperation and uphold and grow an open world economy," he added.

Mr Xi said that it was time for the world to promote open development and encourage the building of systems of "fair, reasonable and transparent global trade and investment rules".

"China is willing to share its development experience with all countries. We will not interfere in other countries' internal affairs," he said.

"No matter if they are from Asia and Europe, or Africa or the Americas, they are all cooperative partners in building the Belt and Road."

Mr Xi did not give a timeframe for the distribution of funds pledged for the projects outlined on Sunday.

Leaders from 29 countries are attending the forum including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayep Erdogan.

Several other European leaders, including the prime ministers of Spain, Italy, Greece and Hungary, are also attending the summit.

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