DIPLOMATS have voiced concern over China’s ambitious ‘new Silk Road’ plan, particularly over the transparency of the multi-billion dollar project, or apparent lack thereof.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and 29 heads of state from around the world, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries, met for a two-day summit in Beijing to discuss the project also referred to as the “One Belt, One Road” initiative, which is a push to revive ancient trade routes from Asia to Europe and Africa.
One of the surprise attendees of the summit was a delegate from North Korea, who turned up despite the complaint sent by the United States to China over Pyongyang’s attendance before the summit began.
In its diplomatic note to China’s Foreign Ministry, the US embassy in Beijing said the invitation to North Korea sends the wrong message at a time leaders all over the world are trying to pressure Pyongyang over its repeated nuclear and missile tests.
At the summit, Xi pledged US$124 billion towards the project which encompasses 68 partner countries and billions of dollars in investment in order to open new markets to Chinese goods and influence. The project will involve a huge network of ports, railways, roads and industry parks.
India has been the most vocal of critics to the initiative and did not send a representative to the event. The government claims the project infringes on India’s sovereignty as part of the project passes through the disputed Kashmir region and Pakistan.