China pledges to invest $124bn in projects under Belt and Road scheme

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BEIJING — Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed ambitious hopes for Asian and European governments to work more closely on finance, law enforcement and a broad range of other issues as leaders from 30 nations issued a joint endorsement Monday of a Beijing-led trade initiative.

"In the speech made by President Xi Jinping on the morning of May 14 at the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, he elaborated on the progress and achievements of the initiative over these years in terms of policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity", the Chinese foreign ministry said.

Xi, outlining China's vision of a new inter-connected world that his signature Belt and Road (B&R) initiative seeks to achieve, spoke about the significance of various ancient civilisations, including "the Indus and Ganges civilisations".

The draft also reaffirmed China and the participating countries' commitment to open economy and inclusive trade, and said the Belt and Road countries were opposed to all forms of protectionism.

"China will scale up financing support for the Relt and Road initiative by contributing an additional 100 billion yuan to the Silk Road Fund, and we encourage financial institutions to conduct overseas RMB fund business with an estimated amount of about 300 billion yuan".

"In a world of growing interdependence... no country can tackle the challenges or solve the world's problems on its own". The event is attended by 29 heads of state and government along with top managers of major worldwide organizations.

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

Other delegates included officials, entrepreneurs and financiers from over 130 countries and representatives of key global organizations, such as U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and Managing Director of the worldwide Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde.

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India skipped the meeting due to its sovereignty concerns over the United States dollars 50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which goes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

"China stresses that this initiative is not benefiting China alone, but it's of a benefit to all participating countries, and as we say, this initiative is not a solo piece but a symphony played by all participating countries", Qi said.

The B&R includes a maze of roads and port projects.

Leaders at the summit agreed to promote a rules-based, open and multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organisation at its core, the communique said.

In a veiled reference to India, which is dead against the CPEC as it goes through Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, Sharif said the issues of CPEC "must not be politicised".

"We have every reason to be confident in the future of the Belt and Road", Xi said.

Announced by Xi in 2013, the Belt and Road project aims to connect Asia, Europe through a network of roads, railway lines, and ports.