In nod to debt concerns, China Belt and Road summit to urge sustainable financing
By John Ruwitch
SHANGHAI, April 21 (Reuters) - World leaders meeting in
Beijing this week for a summit on China's Belt and Road
initiative will agree to project financing that respects global
debt goals and promotes green growth, according to a draft
communique seen by Reuters.
The Belt and Road Initiative is a key policy of President Xi
Jinping and envisions rebuilding the old Silk Road to connect
China with Asia, Europe and beyond with massive infrastructure
But it has proved controversial in many Western capitals,
particularly Washington, which views it as merely a means to
spread Chinese influence abroad and saddle countries with
unsustainable debt through nontransparent projects.
The United States has been particularly critical of Italy's
decision to sign up to the plan last month, the first for a G7
In an apparent nod to these concerns, the communique
reiterates promises reached at the last summit in 2017 for
sustainable financing - but adds a line on debt, which was not
included the last time.
"We support collaboration among national and international
financial institutions to provide diversified and sustainable
financial supports for projects," the draft communique reads.
"We encourage local currency financing, mutual establishment
of financial institutions, and a greater role of development
finance in line with respective national priorities, laws,
regulations and international commitments, and the agreed
principles by the UNGA on debt sustainability," it added,
referring to the United Nations General Assembly.
The word "green" appears in the draft seven times. It was
not mentioned once in the summit communique from two years ago.
"We underline the importance of promoting green
development," the draft reads. "We encourage the development of
green finance including the issuance of green bonds as well as
development of green technology."
The Chinese government's top diplomat, Wang Yi, said on
Friday that the Belt and Road project is not a "geopolitical
tool" or a debt crisis for participating nations, but Beijing
welcomes constructive suggestions on how to address concerns
over the initiative.
A total of 37 foreign leaders are due to attend the April
25-27 summit, though the United States is only sending
lower-level representatives, reflecting its unease over the
The number of foreign leaders at the April 25-27 summit is
up from 29 last time, mainly from China's closest allies like
Pakistan and Russia but also Italy, Switzerland and Austria.
China has repeatedly said Belt and Road is for the benefit
of the whole world, and that it is committed to upholding
globally accepted norms in ensuring projects are transparent and
win-win for all parties.
"We emphasise the importance of the rule of law and equal
opportunities for all," the draft reads.
(Reporting by John Ruwitch; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing
by Edwina Gibbs)
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