President Xi rejects ‘bloc confrontation’ as Belt & Road event ends

Published October 19, 2023
Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks at the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) to mark the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, October 18. — Reuters
Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks at the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) to mark the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, October 18. — Reuters

BEIJING: Chinese President Xi Jinping said his country rejected “economic coercion” and “bloc confrontation” on Wednesday, at the opening ceremony of a forum of international delegates to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which marked the 10th anniversary of the vast infrastructure project.

President Xi in his speech promised Beijing would not engage in “ideological confrontation, geopolitical games or bloc confrontation”, adding: “We oppose unilateral sanctions, economic coercion, decoupling and delinking.”

Western leaders insist their goal is to “de-risk”, not “decouple”, from China, saying they want to diversify supply chains that have become overly dependent on the world’s second-largest economy.

“Viewing the development of others as a threat and economic interdependence as a risk will not make one’s own life any better or one’s own development any faster,” he said. Instead, Xi said, the BRF would seek to “inject new impetus into the global economy”. Beijing would inject over $100 billion of new funding into its BRI, he added.

Afghan Taliban officials discuss formally joining China’s economic corridor

This week, Beijing hosted representatives of 130 countries for a forum on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Xi’s vast trade and infrastructure project. Russian President Vladimir Putin said the BRI was an unexpected “success story”.

“Given the global dimensions of the initiative the Chinese leader launched a decade ago, frankly, one can hardly expect to make it work,” Putin said in his address to delegates.

At an official banquet, Xi delivered a toast in which he alluded to recent geopolitical conflicts, but added that “the historical (trend) of peace” was “unstoppable”.

Officials in Afgh­anistan’s Taliban administration were also invited to the BRI forum. A Taliban minister said that the country was seeking deeper economic cooperation with China.

“We will hold talks about investment and having good bilateral relations with China,” said industry and commerce minister Nooruddin Azizi.

“We have already signed (a number of) projects with China,” Azizi said, adding that discussions were underway for Afghanistan to join the Belt and Road as a formal member.

Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2023

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