China's Xi appeals to foreign leaders for freer trade

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, left, is greeted by Chinese President Xi Jinping during the welcome ceremony for the Belt and Road Forum at the International Conference Center at Yanqi Lake in Beijing, M.

The just-concluded two-day forum hosted by China on the Belt and Road Initiative shows China's willingness to further embrace globalization and trade, Australian Trade Minister Steve Ciobo said Tuesday.

At the forum, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced hefty financial support to the initiative, with 100 billion yuan (about 14.5 billion USA dollars) to augment the Silk Road Fund, 380 billion yuan (55 billion dollars) equivalent in loans for infrastructure and development projects from Chinese policy banks, 300 billion yuan (43.5 billion dollars) to conduct overseas yuan fund businesses and 60 billion yuan (8.7 billion dollars) in aid to developing countries and global organizations.

The two-day Belt and Road Forum is being attended by leaders from 29 countries, including Pakistan, has been boycotted by India due to sovereignty concerns over the Dollars 50 billion CPEC.

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The article in the Global Times, which came after India skipped the Belt and Road summit on Sunday, said New Delhi's opposition to the project was "regrettable".

An article in the Global Times, however, added that India could still change its mind and join the initiative before it is too late.

"It is unusual that the onlooker is more anxious than the players". Connectivity initiatives must follow principles of financial responsibility to avoid projects that would create unsustainable debt burden for communities; balanced ecological and environmental protection and preservation standards; transparent assessment of project costs; and skill and technology transfer to help long term running and maintenance of the assets created by local communities.

It described as odd and a contradiction that India cares about its neighbours' debt burden, but those very neighbours appeared to be willing to take on more. "As regards to the potential debt burden, Pakistan's repayments will peak at around $5 billion in 2022, but this will be offset by transit fees charged in the CPEC".

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