04/26/2019, 10.32
CHINA
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Belt and Road, Xi Jinping responds to US and European criticism

by Wang Zhicheng

At the Beijing Forum, the president promises more cooperation with countries worldwide, without devaluing the yuan, defending copyrights, expanding sectors for foreign companies' investments. 37 world leaders and hundreds of representatives of international companies in attendance. In praise of multilateralism.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Without directly naming the US or Europe, President Xi Jinping responded to their criticism in a speech to the second Forum on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) currently underway yesterday in the Chinese capital.

The BRI project, or the New Silk Road, is an attempt to involve as many countries as possible in the construction and use of communications and trade routes, together with infrastructures, with funding of up to 1,000 billion US dollars, mostly Chinese.

The Forum, which lasts until tomorrow, has gathered leaders from 37 countries and dozens of company representatives. The United States has not sent any representatives. Among the most prominent personalities is Russian President Vladimir Putin and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. Italy has become the first G7 nation to join the program.

But above all the BRI raises many concerns among the Western countries. It is seen as a Chinese attempt at global domination exclusively to the advantage of China. Other countries, such as Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Pakistan and the Philippines see the project as a "debt trap" in which nations become enslaved by Chinese loans.

In his speech, Xi often stressed that the project wants to implement a "co-development" with different nations. To this end he promised that China will not devalue the yuan - a move that facilitates Chinese exports - and that it will strengthen cooperation with the international community to protect intellectual property. China will no longer force technology transfer and protect brands and trade secrets, fighting copyright theft.

These promises are addressed in particular to the United States, which has been engaged with Beijing in a trade war for almost a year now, to have guarantees precisely on those points.

Almost in response to difficulties and demands from the European Union, Xi also said that China will expand access to its market and allow foreign companies to be present in many more business sectors, even independently (without joint ventures with companies Chinese).

For Xi, BRI is not "an exclusive club", and serves not only China's interests, but enhances multilateralism.

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