Xi’s new Silk Road ‘has no political agenda’

President says “Belt and Road Initiative” is not dictated by ideology as summit comes to a close

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 May, 2017, 5:33pm
UPDATED : Monday, 15 May, 2017, 11:22pm

President Xi Jinping said Beijing would hold its second Belt and Road summit in 2019, as he spoke briefly at his press conference to close China’s biggest diplomatic event of the year on Monday evening.

“So far, China has signed agreements related to the ‘Belt and Road’ with 68 countries and international organisations ... We have reached consensus and passed the communique,” Xi told his audience of state leaders almost 30 countries and delegates from more than 100 nations.

Almost 30 state leaders put their support behind Xi Jinping’s new globalisation strategy

“The ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ is not set by ideology. We won’t set a political agenda. It’s not exclusive,” he said, adding that the forum had passed a list of 270 achievements.

China would hold the next Belt and Road summit in 2019, the president said.

“Under concerted efforts, we believe the belt and road can be built to be peaceful, thriving, pioneering, innovative, and civilised.”

Xi’s press conference on Monday evening was delayed for about two hours.

The Belt and Road summit that began on Sunday was attended by heads of state and government from 29 countries, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indonesia’s Joko Widodo. Delegates from around the world – including the United States and North Korea – also joined the international forum.

The Belt and Road initiative is Xi’s brainchild and the country’s biggest economic diplomacy programme, aimed at connecting countries along the modern Silk Road routes in trade, investment and infrastructure development.

China’s global trade plan is open to all and no threat to any, Xi Jinping says

At a round-table meeting with the 29 heads of state and government on Monday morning, the Chinese president had reassured the world leaders that his ambitious globalisation strategy would neither exclude nor target any party.

During his keynote speech at the opening of the forum on Sunday morning, Xi had urged countries around the world to join the Belt and Road, pledging at least US$113 billion in extra funding for the grand plan.