‘China’s Belt and Road Initiative not expansionism’

Beijing, March 8 (IANS) China’s proposed Belt and Road Initiative should not be seen as expansionism, but rather an open initiative, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Tuesday.

“The Initiative is China’s idea, but the opportunities it has created belong to the world,” Xinhua news agency quoted Wang Yi as saying.

The Belt and Road Initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt that links China with Europe through central and western Asia, and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road connecting China with southeast Asia, Africa and Europe.

The Initiative is a response to the need for development and cooperation among Asian and the European countries, and it shows that China is in a rapid transition from a mere participant in international system to a provider of public goods, Wang said.

In building the Belt and Road Initiative, China follows the principles of wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefit, Wang said, noting that it is “an open initiative, not some form of Monroe Doctrine or expansionism.”

Wang said notable progress has been made over the past years in the Initiative, citing development in four areas.

More than 70 countries and international organisations have expressed interest in the Belt and Road Initiative, and over 30 countries have signed agreements with China to jointly build it.

The financial architecture is basically in place. The China-proposed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has started operation and the first group of projects financed by the Silk Road Fund has been launched.

A connectivity network has taken shape, most notably, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor. A freight train now links China with the Europe.

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