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Xi ends China world trade summit with plan to return in 2019

Xi ends China world trade summit with plan to return in 2019
Photo credit: Adam Dean | The New York Times

15 May 2017

President Xi Jinping wrapped up the inaugural summit dedicated to his cornerstone diplomatic initiative for Chinese-style globalization with an invitation to world leaders attending the gathering to re-convene in 2019.

Xi, who has heralded his Belt and Road Initiative as a “project of the century,” said in a televised closing address in Beijing that his plan to link China with the world via ancient trade routes would address economic challenges and promote globalization.

The initiative has “entered a new era as it is in full swing,” Xi said in his closing remarks, noting 68 nations and international organizations had signed cooperation agreements with the host. He said the forum would reconvene in 2019, skipping a year.

Xi opened the two-day meeting on Sunday by pledging 540 billion yuan ($78 billion) in financing, including 100 billion yuan for China’s Silk Road Fund, 380 billion yuan in new lending for participating nations, and 60 billion yuan in coming years to developing countries and international organizations that join the program.

In that speech, Xi repeated his call for multilateral trade, describing his initiative as a force for peace in “a world fraught with challenges.” He told the almost two dozen world leaders gathered at the forum that countries should “uphold and grow an open world economy.”

The speech built on an image of Xi as a champion of global free trade that he’s sought to hone since President Donald Trump’s election, most notably in a January speech in Davos. It set the tone for a major two-day forum starting Sunday to discuss the Belt and Road plan, which aims to connect China with Europe, Asia and Africa through infrastructure and investment.

“They see an opportunity to fill the vacuum and take advantage of perceptions globally,” said Andrew Gilholm, director of analysis for North Asia at Control Risks Group, referring to changing perceptions of U.S. leadership in the Trump era. The presence of major leaders in Beijing to hear China’s plans “fits with the kind of image China has been trying to project.”

Assembled delegates included representatives from more than 100 countries and heads of state including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Representation from India, however, was conspicuously absent as were all Group of Seven heads of state except Italy’s.

During the opening ceremony, the first speakers to follow Xi were Putin and Erdogan, who pledged support for China’s initiative while showcasing their own regional projects. Putin called the initiative “timely and promising” while highlighting the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union. Erdogan told delegates that the world’s economic center of gravity was shifting to the East and said he would like Turkey’s planned infrastructure expansion to be linked with the Belt and Road.

Other world leaders lined up to praise the project. U.K. finance minister Philip Hammond called the initiative “truly groundbreaking,” stressing the country’s desire for new global trade ties as it prepares to leave the European Union. Pakistan’s Sharif called the forum a “historic event” that would “tear down barriers to trade and commerce.”

Addressing concerns that the initiative will become a bonanza for Chinese companies or a strategic play for regional domination, Xi declared that the plan would be open to all countries and would complement each nation’s development goals.

‘Fair Process’

Other leaders hinted at potential problems in their remarks. Matt Pottinger, senior director for East Asia on the National Security Council and special assistant to Trump who is representing the U.S. at the forum, urged transparency and “fair process” in his comments. International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde called for high-quality infrastructure that respects the environment while also welcoming the Chinese initiative.

Xi’s speech also drew implicit contrast between Chinese-style development objectives and those of the West, saying the initiative won’t resort to “outdated geopolitical maneuvering.” He stressed that China doesn’t seek to export its development model to other nations while also calling for mutual respect of one another’s sovereignty, territory and “core interests.”

Eighteen countries including the U.K. agreed Sunday on the guiding principles for financing development of the initiative. The Asian Development Bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, European Investment Bank, New Development Bank, World Bank, and China’s Finance Ministry signed an agreement on promoting Belt and Road, Finance Vice Minister Shi Yaobin said.

China will also encourage financial institutions to conduct an estimated 300 billion yuan ($43 billion) in overseas business using yuan, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Xi proposed the initiative, then known as the Silk Road, in 2013. China’s investment in Belt and Road countries has surpassed $50 billion, according to Xinhua. Credit Suisse Group AG estimates the plan could funnel investments worth as much as $502 billion into 62 countries over five years.

The speech set the ambitious plan against the sweep of Chinese history. The first nine minutes of Xi’s remarks traced the Silk Road’s genesis 2,000 years ago with ancestors trekking across Eurasian steppes to the opening of the $100-billion AIIB in Beijing last year. He evoked treasure-laden ships, the ancient cultures of the Nile and Ganges, and Buddhism’s spread from India to China and beyond.

Missile Launch

But present-day concerns also intruded on the event. Hours before Xi spoke, North Korea fired a ballistic missile, its seventh such test this year, just days after South Korea elected a president who vowed to engage with Kim Jong Un’s regime. The launch defies United Nations sanctions and Trump’s warnings that military action is an option to prevent Kim’s regime from developing an ICBM with the capacity to carry a nuclear warhead to North America.

While Xi didn’t address China’s irksome ally, his remarks referred to geopolitical difficulties along the Belt and Road route. “The ancient silk routes thrived in times of peace, but lost vigor in times of war,” he said. “The pursuit of the Belt and Road Initiative requires a peaceful and stable environment.”

China’s foreign ministry later issued a statement opposing missile launches by North Korea that violate United Nations resolutions. China urged restraint from all parties on the currently “complex and sensitive” situation on the Korean peninsula, the statement said.

The real challenge, though, for the initiative will be implementation. “To get a procession of leaders coming and saying nice things in Beijing, to have the vassal states gathering in the ancient center of the world is very nice,” said Gilholm, “but to actually implement a gigantically expensive and ambitious project and vision to remake how a large part of the globe interacts is a lot more difficult.”


Joint Communiqué of the Leaders Roundtable of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation

16 May 2017

  1. We, President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China, President Mauricio Macri of the Republic of Argentina, President Alexander Lukashenko of the Republic of Belarus, President Michelle Bachelet Jeria of the Republic of Chile, President Milos Zeman of the Czech Republic, President Joko Widodo of the Republic of Indonesia, President Nursultan Nazarbayev of the Republic of Kazakhstan, President Uhuru Kenyatta of the Republic of Kenya, President Almazbek Atambayev of the Kyrgyz Republic, President Bounnhang Vorachith of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte of the Republic of the Philippines, President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation, President Doris Leuthard of the Swiss Confederation, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of the Republic of Turkey, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of the Republic of Uzbekistan, President Tran Dai Quang of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, Prime Minister Hun Sen of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama of the Republic of Fiji, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of the Hellenic Republic, Prime Minister Orbán Viktor of Hungary, Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni of the Italian Republic, Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia, Prime Minister Jargaltulgyn Erdenebat of Mongolia, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Prime Minister Beata Szydło of the Republic of Poland, Prime Minister and President-elect Aleksandar Vučić of the Republic of Serbia, President of the Government Mariano Rajoy Brey of the Kingdom of Spain, and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, attended the Leaders Roundtable of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on 15 May 2017 in Beijing. We also welcome the participation of Secretary General Antonio Guterres of the United Nations, President Jim Yong Kim of the World Bank Group, Managing Director Christine Lagarde of the International Monetary Fund. The Leaders Roundtable was chaired by President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China.

General Context

  1. We are mindful that the world economy is undergoing profound changes, presenting both opportunities and challenges. This is an era of opportunity, where countries continue to aspire for peace, development and cooperation. The UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with the set of Sustainable Development Goals at its core provides a new blueprint of international cooperation.

  2. In this context, we welcome bilateral, triangular, regional and multilateral cooperation where countries place emphasis on eradicating poverty, creating jobs, addressing the consequences of international financial crises, promoting sustainable development, and advancing market-based industrial transformation and economic diversification. We note with appreciation that various development strategies and connectivity cooperation initiatives have been put forward, providing broad space for strengthening international cooperation.

  3. We further recognize the challenges that the world economy faces. While it is currently experiencing modest recovery, downside risks remain. The growth of global trade and investment remains tempered, and the rules-based multilateral trading regime is yet to be strengthened. All countries, especially developing ones, still face common challenges of eradicating poverty, promoting inclusive and sustained economic growth, and achieving sustainable development.

  4. Noting that the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (The Belt and Road Initiative) can create opportunities amidst challenges and changes, we welcome and support the Belt and Road Initiative to enhance connectivity between Asia and Europe, which is also open to other regions such as Africa and South America. By providing important opportunities for countries to deepen cooperation, it has achieved positive outcomes and has future potential to deliver more benefits as an important international initiative.

  5. We also emphasize the opportunities which can be created by communication and coordination among other global, regional and national frameworks and initiatives for promoting cooperation in connectivity and sustainable development, such as 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Addis Ababa Action Agenda, Agenda 2063 of the African Union, Ancient Civilizations Forum, APEC Connectivity Blueprint, ASEAN Community Vision 2025, Asia-Europe Meeting and its group on path-finder of connectivity, Caravanserai Customs Initiative, China and Central and Eastern European Countries Cooperation, China-Europe Land-Sea Express Route, East-West Middle Corridor Initiative, EU-China Connectivity Platform, EU Eastern Partnership, Eurasian partnership based on the principles of equality, openness and transparency, Initiative for the Integration of Regional Infrastructure in South America, Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025, Main Directions for Economic Development of the Eurasian Economic Union until 2030, Paris Agreement on Climate Change, Trans-European Transport Networks, Western Balkans 6 Connectivity Agenda, WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.

  6. We reaffirm our shared commitment to build open economy, ensure free and inclusive trade, oppose all forms of protectionism including in the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. We endeavor to promote a universal, rules-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system with WTO at its core.

Cooperation Objectives

  1. We stand for enhancing international cooperation including the Belt and Road Initiative and various development strategies, by building closer collaboration partnerships, which include advancing North-South, South-South, and triangular cooperation.

  2. We reiterate the importance of expanding economic growth, trade and investment based on level-playing field, on market rules and on universally recognized international norms. We welcome the promotion of industrial cooperation, scientific and technological innovation, and regional economic cooperation and integration so as to increase, inter alia, the integration and participation of micro, small and medium enterprises in global value chains. Attention should be paid to tax and fiscal policies, prioritizing growth and productive investment.

  3. We stand for strengthening physical, institutional and people-to-people connectivity among all countries. The least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, small island developing states and middle-income countries deserve special attention to remove bottlenecks of development and achieve effective connectivity.

  4. We endeavor to expand people-to-people exchanges, promote peace, justice, social cohesion, inclusiveness, democracy, good governance, the rule of law, human rights, gender equality and women empowerment; work together to fight against corruption and bribery in all their forms; to be more responsive to all the needs of those in vulnerable situations such as, children, persons with disabilities and older persons; and help improve global economic governance, and ensure equal access by all to development opportunities and benefits.

  5. We are determined to protect the planet from degradation, including through taking urgent action on climate change and encouraging all parties which have ratified it to fully implement the Paris Agreement, managing the natural resources in an equitable and sustainable manner, conserving and sustainably using oceans and seas, freshwater resources, as well as forests, mountains and drylands, protecting biodiversity, ecosystems and wildlife, combating desertification and land degradation so as to achieving sustainable development in its three dimensions in a balanced and integrated manner.

  6. We encourage the involvement of governments, international and regional organizations, the private sector, civil society and citizens in fostering and promoting friendship, mutual understanding and trust.

Cooperation Principles

  1. We uphold the spirit of peace, cooperation, openness, transparency, inclusiveness, equality, mutual learning, mutual benefit and mutual respect by strengthening cooperation on the basis of extensive consultation and the rule of law, joint efforts, shared benefits and equal opportunities for all. In this context we highlight the following principles guiding our cooperation, in accordance with our respective national laws and policies:

    1. Consultation on an equal footing: Honoring the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and international law including respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of countries; formulating cooperation plans and advancing cooperation projects through consultation.

    2. Mutual benefit: Seeking convergence of interests and the broadest common ground for cooperation, taking into account the perspectives of different stakeholders.

    3. Harmony and inclusiveness: Acknowledging the natural and cultural diversity of the world and recognizing that all cultures and civilizations can contribute to sustainable development.

    4. Market-based operation: Recognizing the role of the market and that of business as key players, while ensuring that the government performs its proper role and highlighting the importance of open, transparent, and non-discriminatory procurement procedures.

    5. Balance and sustainability: Emphasizing the importance of economic, social, fiscal, financial and environmental sustainability of projects, and of promoting high environmental standards, while striking a good balance among economic growth, social progress and environmental protection.

Cooperation Measures

  1. We affirm the need to prioritize policy consultation, trade promotion, infrastructure connectivity, financial cooperation and people-to-people exchanges, and we highlight concrete actions, in accordance with our national laws and regulations and international obligations where applicable, such as:

    1. Pursuing dialogue and consultation in order to build synergies in development strategies among participating countries, noting the efforts to strengthen cooperation in coordinating development of the Belt and Road Initiative with other plans and initiatives as mentioned in Paragraph 6 and to promote partnerships among Europe, Asia, South America, Africa and other regions.

    2. Conducting in-depth consultation on macroeconomic issues by optimizing the existing multilateral and bilateral cooperation and dialogue mechanisms, so as to provide robust policy support for practical cooperation and the implementation of major projects.

    3. Strengthening cooperation on innovation, by supporting innovation action plans for e-commerce, digital economy, smart cities and science and technology parks, and by encouraging greater exchanges on innovation and business startup models in the Internet age in respect of intellectual property rights.

    4. Promoting practical cooperation on roads, railways, ports, maritime and inland water transport, aviation, energy pipelines, electricity, fiber optic including trans-oceanic cable, telecommunications and information and communication technology, and welcoming the development of interconnected multimodal corridors, such us a new Eurasian Land Bridge, Northern Sea Route, the East-West Middle Corridor etc., and major trunk lines to put in place an international infrastructure network over time.

    5. Maximizing synergies in infrastructure planning and development by taking into account international standards where applicable, and by aiming at harmonizing rules and technological standards when necessary; fostering a favorable environment and predictability for infrastructure investment by private capital; promoting public-private partnership in areas that create more jobs and generate greater efficiency; welcoming international financial institutions to increase support and investment for infrastructure development.

    6. Deepening economic and trade cooperation; upholding the authority and effectiveness of the multilateral trading system, and working together to achieve positive outcomes at the 11th WTO ministerial conference; promoting trade and investment liberalization and facilitation; enabling the general public to benefit from trade.

    7. Expanding trade by nurturing new areas of trade growth, promoting trade balance and promoting e-commerce and digital economy, welcoming the development of free trade areas and signing of free trade agreements by interested countries.

    8. Advancing global value chains development and supply chain connectivity, while ensuring safer work places and strengthening social protection systems; increasing two-way investment, and enhancing cooperation in emerging industries, trade and industrial parks and cross-border economic zones.

    9. Enhancing cooperation in ensuring the protection of the environment, of bio-diversity and of natural resources, in addressing the adverse impacts of climate change, in promoting resilience and disaster-risk reduction and management, and in advancing renewable energy and energy efficiency.

    10. Regarding the process of customs clearance, strengthening cooperation on information exchange and on developing mutual recognition of control, mutual assistance of enforcement, and mutual sharing of information; enhancing customs cooperation with a view to facilitating trade including by harmonizing procedures and reducing costs, and in this regard, strengthening cooperation in protecting intellectual property rights.

    11. Jointly working on a long-term, stable and sustainable financing system; enhancing financial infrastructure connectivity, by exploring new models and platforms of investment and financing and improving financial services; assessing the opportunity to better serve local financial market; and encouraging development-oriented financial institutions to play an active role and strengthen cooperation with multilateral development institutions.

    12. Contributing to a stable and equitable international financial system; promoting openness and connectivity among financial markets, including through mutual cooperation on payment systems and the promotion of financial inclusion; encouraging financial institutions to establish commercial presence in relevant countries and regions; promoting bilateral local currency settlement and cooperation agreements, and facilitating the development of local currency bonds and stock markets; encouraging dialogues to enhance financial cooperation and fend off financial risks.

    13. Promoting people-to-people exchanges and bonds by deepening practical cooperation on education, science, technology, sport, health, think-tank, media, capacity building including through internships.

    14. Encouraging dialogues among civilizations, cultural exchanges, promoting tourism and protecting the world’s cultural and natural heritage.

Our Vision for the Future

  1. Our joint endeavor on the Belt and Road Initiative and seeking complementarities with other connectivity initiatives provide new opportunities and impetus for international cooperation. It helps to work for a globalization that is open, inclusive and beneficial to all.

  2. We reiterate that promoting peace, mutually-beneficial cooperation, and honoring the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and international law are our shared responsibilities; achieving inclusive and sustainable growth and development, and improving people’s quality of life are our common goals; creating a prosperous and peaceful community with shared future for mankind is our common aspiration.

  3. We congratulate China on successfully hosting the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

Source Bloomberg News
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Date 15 May 2017
 
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