Representatives of international organizations and nearly 150 countries are attending the 2019 meeting of the world's biggest multinational investment and infrastructure project.
An economic panel gathering more than 1,000 entrepreneurs from all over the world was a prelude Wednesday of the the Second Summit of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a multitrillon-dollar Chinese international investment proposal whose political forum will be inaugurated by President Xi Jinping Friday.
Although the BRI originated in China, “it belongs to the world,” President Xi said and added that it has become “an open and inclusive platform for international cooperation and global public goods, thanks to the concerted efforts of all parties,” as reported by Xinhua.
The United States and some of its allies, however, have criticized the "New Silk Road" by calling it a "debt trap" for less developed countries to increase their dependence on China. Chinese economic authorities and leading international business sector leaders have rejected these accusations.
Arancha Gonzalez, executive director of the International Trade Center (ITC), a joint development agency of the United Nations (U.N.) and the World Trade Organization (WTO), highlighted that the BRI project offers "an incredible opportunity for China to collaborate in the development of the countries which are its partners."
China no longer needs only raw materials but with the 1.4 billion inhabitants within its borders, it has growing middle class with an "increasing and more sophisticated demand for food," she explained to EFE, adding that the initiative has to be "inclusive" not only for big companies but for "the 99 percent of companies, which are small and medium."
One of the businessmen attending the BRI forum was Alejando Perez Viazzi, vice president of Conaprole, a Uruguayan company and one of the biggest Latin American dairy exporters.
"The Chinese market is very important for us. We are a small country and if we want to grow we have to move outwards, for we export 75 percent of our output," Perez Viazzi explained, adding that the Chinese initiative "is very smart because it will unite many countries in the South," given that the "new Silk Road" will encourage exchange among all its country members.
The second BRI Summit will gather 37 heads of state from countries such as Chile, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Russia, Austria, Switzerland, Singapore, the Philippines, Kenya, Pakistan, Egypt, Czech Republic, Hungary, Serbia, Mongolia, Vietnam and Thailand.
There will also be high-level officers from nearly 150 countries and representatives of multilateral organizations, among whom are U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres and IMF Manager Christine Lagarde.
During the past few years, the administration of President Donald Trump has asked the U.S.' traditional allies not to join the Chinese initiative. Despite the request, however, Italy became the first G7-country to join the New Silk Route last March.