China says Silk Road push counters 'isolationism'

SHANGHAI • China's top diplomat yesterday said the country's "Silk Road" push would help boost global cooperation at a time when the risk of "isolationism" is growing.

The "One Belt, One Road" scheme, promoting infrastructure projects along historical land and sea trade routes, is helping "align China's development with that of other countries", State Councillor Yang Jiechi said in a commentary in the official China Daily newspaper.

He said the "shared benefits" of the Silk Road plan contrasted with the rise of "louder voices against globalisation" and a shift towards "isolationism, outdated thinking and fragmented trade agreements".

This comes as China plays up its role as a steadying force in issues from global trade to climate change amid a turbulent start by US President Donald Trump, whose first days in office have been marked by media feuds and protests.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, as a keynote speaker at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last month, offered a vigorous defence of globalisation and signalled Beijing's desire to play a bigger role on the world stage.

Mr Trump, meanwhile, is withdrawing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, threatened trade curbs on its southern neighbour Mexico, aimed barbs at China and imposed a temporary entry ban on refugees.

China is hosting an international conference on its One Belt, One Road scheme in May, seen as a chance for Beijing to showcase its leadership of global infrastructure and investment.

Observers say the forum will be the biggest diplomatic event hosted by China this year amid Beijing's efforts to advocate interconnectivity and cooperation to invigorate the global economy.

According to the China Daily, more than 100 countries and international organisations have joined the One Belt, One Road initiative, and more than 40 of them have signed cooperation agreements with China.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 04, 2017, with the headline 'China says Silk Road push counters 'isolationism''. Print Edition | Subscribe