China signs over 130 transport pacts with Belt and Road countries

At the crossroads

At the crossroads

At a press conference this week to unveil the agenda of the summit, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that at least 28 heads of state and government will attend the forum in Beijing on May 14-15, including Russian President Putin, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, and leaders of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

The Belt and Road Summit is China's first global conference of all the 60-plus countries that have signed up to be a part of the infrastructure corridor also known as the New Silk Route and the One Belt One Road (OBOR) project since it was first proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013. Xi charted the direction for grasping the historical opportunity to advance China's opening up and development as well as further promoting the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative. "It was, remains and will be so in the future", Liu Jinsong, Minister at the Embassy of China in India, said.

He was addressing a conference on "The Belt and Road Initiative: India's perspectives on China's ambitious plan for infrastructural connectivity in Asia, Africa and Europe", organised by Observer Research Foundation here. In addition, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde are also expected.

It includes 21st century maritime silk road to connect China with different ports in the world as well as the CPEC and the BCIM.

The country has opened 356 worldwide road routes for both passengers and goods, while maritime transportation services now cover all countries along the Belt and Road, he added.

"The Belt and Road Initiative is an inheritance, revival and upgrade of the ancient Silk Route", he said. "India contributed 8 billion U.S. dollars and became the second largest shareholder at the AIIB", he said. The route, for which China has already allocated a $40-billion fund, is made up of railway lines, roads, highways, maritime channels and energy projects that will connect China to places as far as the United Kingdom, essentially for trade in goods and fuel supplies. "At the Forum next month, another over 40 countries and worldwide organisations will discuss and sign cooperation agreements with China", he said.

There are only 40-plus direct flights between the two countries each week, considerably less than 1,000 direct flights per week between China and South Korea, he said.

Railway border procedures have been streamlined, with 39 China-Europe freight train routes now in operation, Wu said.