China pledges US$124 bil. for new Silk Road
China's President Xi Jinping has pledged to invest around 124 billion U.S. dollars into his new Silk Road plan.
Formally known as the Belt and Road Initiative, President Xi's ambitious plan aims to rebuild ports, roads and rail networks.
Ro Aram has more. The Belt and Road Initiative was first unveiled four years ago, but the timing of President Xi's major funding pledge comes amid U.S. President Donald Trump's protectionist policies.
The Chinese leader called it the "project of the century" as he hosted leaders of 29 countries at a forum on the initiative on Sunday.
He said the project aims to forge a path of peace, inclusiveness and free trade.
President Trump is pushing his "America First" policies and has long criticized global trade deals.
President Xi, however, urged his global counterparts to build an open platform of cooperation and uphold and grow an open world economy, adding that trade is the important engine of economic development.
China's multi-billion dollar plan is intended to expand trade links between Asia, Africa, Europe and beyond, with massive investment in infrastructure along the way.
It would span at least 65 countries, including more than 60 percent of the world's population, and 30 percent of global GDP.
The Chinese president's funding pledge includes an extra 14-and-a-half billion dollars into the existing Silk Road Fund, 55 billion in loans from two policy banks and 8.7 billion in aid to developing countries and international institutions that form part of the Belt and Road project.
However, Xi did not give a timeframe for the new loans, aid and funding.
President Xi also reassured western nations that the project was not China's attempt to assert its global influence, saying it would benefit everyone.
But, some western countries, as well as some of China's neighbors, have expressed concern that Beijing might be using the new Silk Road to mask its geopolitical ambitions.