BRI summit ends with $64bn in deals

Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that $64bn in deals had been signed at the second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing on Saturday, news wires reported. Xi used his closing speech to reiterate that the massive infrastructure project would focus on “open, clean and green development” with different parties holding “consultation as equals.”

In his opening address on Friday Xi pointed out that BRI would concentrate more on transparency and clean governance, amid criticism that the project has fuelled local corruption as it poured cash into projects around the world. The Belt and Road Initiative has been accused by the US and by many Western EU members of luring developing countries into debt by offering cheap financing they cannot afford.

Xi also called for more countries to join the initiative. China recently won a major victory when Italy became the first G7 nation to sign on earlier this month. Switzerland has also indicated it would soon join.

The forum in Beijing was attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin and by leaders of some 37 countries, including Italian PM Giuseppe Conte, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Greek PM Alexis Tsipras. Germany was represented by Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, who said that major EU countries are ready to sign a memorandum of understanding on BRI as a group rather than individual states. He added that Germany, France, Spain, and the UK had already shown at the Beijing forum that the EU was “in its great majority” united in its vision that “we can only implement our positions together”.

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