At the opening of a summit on his Belt and Road initiative, President Xi Jinping said the massive infrastructure and trade plan should result in "high quality" growth for everyone.

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks at the opening ceremony for the second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China April 26, 2019.
Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks at the opening ceremony for the second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China April 26, 2019. (Reuters)

China's President Xi Jinping said on Friday the aim of his Belt and Road initiative is to advance win-win cooperation among countries and build a new platform for international trade, while also creating development opportunities for China.

The next step in recreating the old Silk Road was to push the initiative towards high-quality development, with a focus on green infrastructure and finance, Xi said in a keynote speech at a summit on the Belt and Road initiative.

The Belt and Road initiative championed by Xi has become mired in controversy, with some partner nations bemoaning the high cost of projects.

China has repeatedly said it is not seeking to trap anyone with debt and only has good intentions.

'Debt traps'

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".

Visiting leaders include Russia's Vladimir Putin, as well as Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan, a close China ally and among the biggest recipients of Belt and Road investment, and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of Italy, which recently became the first G7 country to sign on to the initiative.

The United States, which has not joined the Belt and Road, is expected to send only lower-level officials, and nobody from Washington, citing concerns over opaque financing practices, poor governance, and disregard for internationally accepted norms.

"The United States is not sending high level officials from Washington to the Belt and Road Forum," a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Beijing said.

"We continue to have serious concerns that China's infrastructure diplomacy activities ignore or weaken international standards and best practices related to development, labour protections, and environmental protection." 

Source: Reuters