Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on Sunday morning.
Xi started his speech by reviewing the history of the ancient trade routes. "The ancient silk routes embody the spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit," he said.
Four years on: great achievements made under the initiative
The past four years have seen deepened policy connectivity, enhanced infrastructure connectivity, increased trade connectivity and expanded financial connectivity as the vision of the Belt and Road Initiative is becoming a reality and bearing rich fruit, Xi said.
He hailed the fruitful achievements made over the past four years, saying over 100 countries and international organizations have supported and got involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.
China has signed cooperation agreements with over 40 countries and international organizations and carried out framework cooperation on production capacity with more than 30 countries, he said.
To enhance financial connectivity, China has engaged in multiple forms of financial cooperation with countries and organizations involved in the initiative, Xi said. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has provided 1.7 billion US dollars of loans for nine projects in Belt and Road participating countries, and the Silk Road Fund has also made four billion US dollars of investment, he said.
Bright future: steering the initiative toward greater success
President Xi highlighted the key principles behind the building of the Belt and Road, and pledged to build it into a road of peace, prosperity, opening up and innovation and a road connecting different civilizations.
"We should foster a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation; and we should forge partnerships of dialogue with no confrontation and of friendship rather than alliance," Xi said.
"Trade is an important engine driving growth," Xi said, saying countries should uphold the multilateral trading regime, advance the building of free trade areas and promote liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment.
Concrete efforts to be made under the initiative
China will scale up financing support for the Belt and Road Initiative by contributing 100 billion yuan (14.5 billion US dollars) to the Silk Road Fund, Xi said. The China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China will set up special lending schemes respectively worth 250 billion yuan equivalent (36.2 billion US dollars) and 130 billion yuan equivalent (18.8 billion US dollars) to support cooperation on infrastructure, industry capacity and financing, he added.
China will provide emergency food aid worth two billion yuan (290 million US dollars) to developing countries along the Belt and Road and make an additional contribution of one billion US dollars to the Assistance Fund for South-South Cooperation, Xi said.
China will sign business and trade cooperation agreements with over 30 countries and enter into consultation on free trade agreements with related countries, Xi said.
Xi added that the China International Import Expo will be held starting from 2018.
At least 29 heads of state and government are attending the forum, the highest-profile international meeting on the Belt and Road since Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the initiative in 2013.