China's Xi says Belt and Road must be green, sustainable

  26 April 2019    Read: 1255
China

China’s Belt and Road initiative must be green and sustainable, President Xi Jinping said at the opening of a summit on his grand plan on Friday, adding that the massive infrastructure and trade plan should result in “high quality” growth for everyone, Reuters reports.

Xi’s plan to rebuild the old Silk Road to connect China with Asia, Europe and beyond with huge spending on infrastructure, has become mired in controversy as some partner nations have bemoaned the high cost of projects.

China has repeatedly said it is not seeking to trap anyone with debt and only has good intentions, and has been looking to use this week’s summit in Beijing to recalibrate the policy and address those concerns.

Xi said in a keynote speech to the summit that environmental protection must underpin the scheme “to protect the common home we live in”.

“We must adhere to the concept of openness, greenness, and cleanliness,” he said.

“Operate in the sun and fight corruption together with zero tolerance,” Xi added.

“Building high-quality, sustainable, risk-resistant, reasonably priced, and inclusive infrastructure will help countries to fully utilize their resource endowments.”

Western governments have tended to view it as a means to spread Chinese influence abroad, saddling poor countries with unsustainable debt.

While most of the Belt and Road projects are continuing as planned, some have been caught up by changes in government in countries such as Malaysia and the Maldives.

Those that have been shelved for financial reasons include a power plant in Pakistan and an airport in Sierra Leone, and Beijing has in recent months had to rebuff critics by saying that not one country has been burdened with so-called “debt traps”.

Since 2017, the finance ministries of 28 countries have called on governments, financial institutions and companies from Belt and Road countries to work together to build a long-term, stable and sustainable financing system to manage risks, China’s finance ministry said in a report released on Thursday.

Debt sustainability has to be taken into account when mobilizing funds, the finance ministry said in the report, which outlined a framework for use in analyzing debt sustainability of low-income Belt and Road nations and managing debt risks.

The framework is based on the IMF/World Bank Debt Sustainability Framework for Low Income Countries while penciling in local conditions and development of partner nations, according to the report.


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