(Reuters) China says its Silk Road initiative is helping create “a new era of globalization” open to all, according to a draft communique for a summit next month on the project, as Beijing burnishes its free trade credentials amid protectionist forces elsewhere.
Leaders from 28 countries will attend the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing on May 14-15, an event orchestrated to promote Chinese President Xi Jinping’s vision of expanding links between Asia, Africa and Europe underpinned by billions of dollars in infrastructure investment.
Although only one Group of Seven leader is due to attend, the forum will be China’s biggest diplomatic event of 2017.
It offers Xi a chance to flesh out China’s global leadership ambitions as U.S. President Donald Trump promotes “America First” and voters in some European nations turn against globalization.
The government is pulling out the stops to make it a success, offering soothing words about sharing the bounty of economic growth and promising inclusivity.
Companies in some host countries complain they are being frozen out of major “One Belt, One Road” projects while China’s state-owned firms grab the lion’s share.
Many Western countries also worry about a lack of detail and transparency in the project and are suspicious about China’s broader political intentions behind the Silk Road.
“Our joint endeavor to promote the Belt and Road Initiative provides new opportunities and impetus for international cooperation,” said the draft communique, seen by Reuters but open to revisions.
“It helps to usher in a new era of globalization that is open, inclusive and beneficial to all.”
Diplomats briefed on China’s thinking say Beijing hopes to make the summit an annual event.