BEIJING: China’s huge Belt and Road initiative to build a new Silk Road will respect global rules and be free of “backroom deals”, the foreign minister said on Thursday, defending a key policy of President Xi Jinping’s.
Unveiled in 2013, the Belt and Road project is aimed at
connecting China by land and sea to Southeast Asia, Pakistan and
Central Asia, and beyond to the Middle East, Europe and Africa.
Xi pledged $124 billion for the plan at a summit last May but it has faced suspicion in Western capitals that it is intended more to assert Chinese influence than Beijing’s professed desire to spread prosperity and that it will mostly benefit Chinese companies.
Visiting China in January, French President Emmanuel Macron
said Belt and Road could not be “one-way”.
Speaking at a news conference on the sidelines of the annual
meeting of parliament, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the
Belt and Road was a “sunshine initiative” that was open and for
all to benefit from.
“Everything will operate in the sunshine,” Wang said. “There
is no domination by one party; everyone participates equally. There are no backroom deals; there is openness and transparency. There is no winner-takes-all; only seeking win-win mutual benefit.”
Wang pointed to what he said were several already very
successful Belt and Road-linked projects, including building
power plants in Pakistan and China’s operation of Greece’s
largest port at Piraeus.
“China and France have joined hands to build a nuclear power
station in Britain, becoming a model for cooperation in new
high-tech projects for the Belt and Road,” he said, referring to
the Hinkley Point scheme, which British Prime Minister Theresa
May initially put on hold when she came to office in 2016.
Wang said China was committed to best international
practice. “Belt and Road is a global public good, and of course
respects international rules. It is a global platform for
cooperation, and naturally will run according to market rules,”
he added. “It won’t only benefit China. Even more, it will bring
benefit to the world.”