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Economy: China tells world leaders to reject protectionism

President of China, Xi Jinping, on Saturday, called on world leaders to build an open world economy, amid a rising protectionism policy in the West.…

President of China, Xi Jinping, on Saturday, called on world leaders to build an open world economy, amid a rising protectionism policy in the West.

Speaking at a roundtable meeting of the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) in Beijing, the Chinese leader said today’s world economy was experiencing a challenging moment with “rising uncertainties and destabilizing factors”.

The BRF is a top-level platform for international cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which was initially proposed by the Chinese president in 2013. The initiative seeks to rebuild the ancient trade routes to link China to Europe, Asia and Africa.

“We need to build an open world economy and reject protectionism,” Xi said, noting that joint building of the BRI has opened up new space for the world’s economic growth.

China, he said, is ready to work with all parties to booster cooperation mechanisms on the basis of extensive consultation, joint efforts, shared benefits and equal opportunities for all.

Since the launch of BRI, China has signed more than 170 agreements with 126 countries and 29 international organizations.

President Xi stressed the importance of fulfilling bilateral and multilateral trade agreements, saying that China values a promise as much as tons of gold.

At the opening of the forum on Friday, President Xi stressed the need to build high-quality, sustainable, risk-resistant, reasonably priced, and inclusive infrastructure.

Infrastructure is a bottleneck in the development of many nations, he said. “Building infrastructure with such standards can help countries give full play to their advantages in resources and better integrate into the global supply, industry and value chains for interconnected development.”

In the past two years, he said BRI had made all round progress in policy, infrastructure and people to people exchanges.

Fiscal sustainability of projects

There are growing concerns over debt sustainability in many countries but President Xi said China was already taking steps to ensure the commercial and fiscal sustainability of all BRI projects.

“To be fully successful, BRI projects should only go where it is sustainable in all respects,” said Christine Lagarde, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“Infrastructure projects are probably the most difficult to deliver. And if not manage carefully, infrastructure projects can lead to problematic situations, including in particular the expected increase of debt,” she added.

British finance minister, Philip Hammond, hailed BRI as “an extraordinarily ambitious vision” but said the initiative must work for everyone involved for it to turn into a sustainable reality.

“The U.K. is committed to helping to realize the potential of the BRI and to doing so in way that works for all whose lives are touched by the project,” he added.

Heads of state and government from 37 countries and other representatives from around the world are attending the three-day forum, which runs from April 25 to 27.

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