Belt and Road must be green, says China’s Xi
BEIJING – Reuters
China’s Belt and Road initiative must be green and sustainable, President Xi Jinping said at the opening of a summit on his grand plan on April 26, adding that the massive infrastructure and trade plan should result in “high-quality” growth for everyone.
Xi’s plan to rebuild the old Silk Road to connect China with Asia, Europe and beyond has become mired in controversy as some partner nations have bemoaned the high cost of infrastructure projects.
China has not said exactly how much money will be needed in total, but some independent estimates suggest it will run into several trillion dollars.
Beijing has repeatedly said it is not seeking to trap anyone with debt and only has good intentions, and has been looking to use this week’s summit in Beijing to recalibrate the policy and address those concerns.
Xi said in a keynote speech that environmental protection must underpin the scheme “to protect the common home we live in”.
“We must adhere to the concept of openness, greenness, and cleanliness,” he said.
Unlike the first summit in 2017, where Xi said Chinese banks will lend 380 billion yuan ($56.43 billion) to support Belt and Road cooperation, he did not give a figure for new financing support.
Western governments have tended to view it as a means to spread Chinese influence abroad, saddling poor countries with unsustainable debt.
Visiting leaders include Russia’s Vladimir Putin, as well as Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan, a close China ally and among the biggest recipients of Belt and Road investment, and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of Italy, which recently became the first G7 country to sign on to the initiative.