[Xi defended globalization at a time when Trump has vowed to put “America First” in international trade and relations. He warned that “isolation results in backwardness.” (AFP Photo)]
Beijing: Chinese President Xi Jinping opened an international summit on "New Silk Road" in Beijing on Sunday, which aspires to strengthen China's trade ties with Eurasia and Africa.
The summit is showcasing Xi's cherished One Belt, One Road initiative, a revival of the Silk Road that could cement China's growing global clout on trade and geopolitics.
"This is indeed a gathering of great minds," Xi said, addressing leaders from 29 countries, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, AFP reported.
"We should build an open platform of cooperation and uphold and grow an open world economy," Xi told the opening of the summit. President Xi pledged to pump an extra $124 billion in funds into the initiative, calling it "a project of the century" in a "world fraught with challenges".
The Chinese-bankrolled project seeks to link the country with Africa, Asia and Europe through an enormous network of ports, railways, roads and industrial parks.
The initiative spans some 65 countries representing 60 percent of the world population and around a third of global gross domestic product. The China Development Bank has earmarked $890 billion for some 900 projects.
Xi defended globalization at a time when Trump has vowed to put “America First” in international trade and relations. He warned that “isolation results in backwardness.”
Focusing on his initiative, the Chinese president boasted that it represented a "road for peace", but he cautioned "all countries should respect each other’s sovereignty... and territorial integrity". He also warned that "isolation results in backwardness".
Praising Xi's initiative, Putin warned that "protectionism is becoming the norm".
"The ideas of openness, trade freedom are rejected more and more, very often by those who were their supporters not so long ago", Putin said.
For his part, Turkish President Erdogan said Belt and Road was "going to be the kind of initiative that will put an end to terrorism".
India has voiced displeasure at the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a Belt and Road project aimed at linking northwestern China to the Arabian Sea.
The route cuts through Gilgit and Baltistan in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, disputed territory that India claims is illegally occupied.