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China’s “One Belt, One Road” Initiative Forum

Africa, Asia, and Europe are one step closer to being linked with China under the latter’s massive infrastructure plans, with many of the continents’ leaders gathering last weekend in Beijing for a forum on the “One Belt, One Road” initiative. One Belt, One Road countries were promised C$170 billion in additional loans, aid, and investments by Xi Jinping, in addition to the nearly C$70 billion already spent by China between 2014 and 2016.

It is reported that 29 heads of state attended the forum, 20 of which lead Belt and Road countries, among a total of 1,500 attendees from 130 countries. Discussing going beyond Asia, Europe, and Africa, Xi gave a 45 minute speech on this “project of a century,” with a promise of US$9 billion in aid to developing countries. Globalization and cooperation were heavily pushed themes by Chinese state media in the lead up to the forum, with the campaign ranging from singing children to bedtime stories for 5-year-olds, while the government highlighted the 1,700 projects completed by 50 Chinese state-owned enterprises across the Belt and Road regions.

If this US$5 trillion (C$7 trillion) project is completed, China will have transportation corridors and infrastructure spanning across nations on three continents; from China to the Czech Republic, from East Timor to Egypt, from Indonesia to Russia, and so on. Central Asian pipelines, a US$46 billion China-Pakistan corridor, and a 3,000 km railway from China to Singapore are just some of the initiative’s flagship projects, with February data indicating that US$500 billion in projects and deals were announced in Belt and Road countries in 2016. Although not all of the 65 countries China has identified as part of the initiative have themselves confirmed that they will participate in this Belt and Road, the proposed countries involved make up a combined 60% and 30% of world population and total GDP, respectively.

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