Chinese President Xi Jinping urges backing for his new Silk Road Initiative while addressing world leaders at a summit in Beijing, stressing the importance of rejecting protectionism in seeking global economic growth. As David Pollard reports, China ihas pledged $124 billion to make the plan a reality.
As summits go, this was oversized. The longest limos - conference tables to impress - for 30 heads of state in Beijing. And a pledge from China for a massive 124 billion dollars to link Asia, Africa and Europe in trade links over land and sea. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) CHINESE PRESIDENT, XI JINPING, SAYING: "We must have partnership and cooperate in opening up ... not walling ourselves in, not making exclusive arrangements - opposing protectionism." The leader of China's biggest neighbour echoed that theme. Russia's President Putin spoke of protectionism as a '"new normal". Though the message from China was: everyone can gain. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WILSON KING INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT, HEAD OF RESEARCH, RICHARD HUNTER, SAYING: "One of the spins was that the U.S. economy as well as the global economy would be beneficiaries. The US on the basis of a potential bilateral agreement and the global economy on the simple basis that the massive infrastructure spending, for example, would be put out to foreign tenders and bids." But critics see the Silk Road project as a Chinese ploy to spread influence. Not Britain: with Brexit looming, it's welcomed the prospect of new bilateral trade. Some EU states, though, complain of Beijing's own protectionism. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EU COMMISSION VICE PRESIDENT, JYRKI KATAINEN, SAYING: "This is the reason why European companies' investments to China has decreased - actually last year it dropped some 23 percent, which is the lowest for 10 years - and it's only because of problems in the Chinese market or the lack of market access." And another major neighbour, India, was absent from this group photo. Refusing to send a delegation, in protest at a trade route through Pakistan and disputed Kashmir. China will host another summit in 2019 as it pushes its big plan - with big challenges to match.