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China's president aims to expand Belt and Road project

By Sommer Brokaw
China's president aims to expand Belt and Road project
Chinese President Xi Jinping (C) and his wife Peng Liyuan pose for a photo with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko before a banquet Saturday as part of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing. Photo by Xie Huanchi/UPI/pool | License Photo

April 27 (UPI) -- China's President Xi Jinping urged more countries Saturday to support his country's Belt and Road project in his remarks at the second forum on the initiative.

The Belt and Road project was initiated in 2013 to finance and construct transportation routes spanning across Asia, Europe and Africa, and increase its global impact.

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Italy became the first G-7 country to sign onto the Belt and Road initiative last month.

"All interested countries are welcome to join us," XI said in an English translation of his Mandarin Chinese remarks. "While the Belt and Road Initiative was launched by China, its opportunities and outcomes are shared by the world."

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Xi's remarks come amid critics who say the infrastructure benefits state-owned Chinese companies while making developing nations suffer debt as China has released easy credit for over five years to incentivize the project.

The president pledged to now place more of a focus on sustainability, noting the "Debt Sustainability Analysis Framework," to encourage cooperation and debt management through "co-financing, which the Ministry of Finance referred to in a statement Thursday.

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Xi said that companies got more than $64 billion in agreements from a corporate event for the forum.

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He added that countries reached inter-governmental cooperation agreements and "practical cooperation projects."

Vice President Wang Qishan and Xi's economic advisor Liu He, leading the U.S.-China trade talks, were among the top Chinese leaders at the press conference.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attended the forum this year after concluding summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but the United States and India didn't have official representatives there.

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Xi said in his welcome address that he has goals to enforce intellectual property rights and stop arbitrary technology transfer, which have been bones of contention in the U.S.-China trade dispute.

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