Friday, August 18, 2017 | ePaper

Most major Western leaders to skip China's New Silk Road summit

  • Print


China's President Xi Jinping during the official welcoming ceremony in front of the Presidential Palace, in Helsinki.

Reuters, Beijing :
Only one leader of a big Western country is attending China's most important diplomatic event of the year, a summit next month on Chinese President Xi Jinping's New Silk Road strategy, as China's foreign minister denied it had been snubbed.
Xi has championed what China formally calls the "One Belt, One Road" or OBOR initiative to build a new Silk Road linking Asia, Africa and Europe, a landmark programme to invest billions of dollars in infrastructure projects including railways, ports and power grids. China has dedicated $40 billion to a Silk Road Fund and the idea was the driving force behind the establishment of the $50 billion China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
Diplomatic sources in Beijing said China had hoped for at least some senior Western leaders to attend the summit, including British Prime Minister Theresa May, to burnish the plan's international credentials and make it less China-centric.
But a list of attendees announced by Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Tuesday included only one leader from the Group of Seven (G7) industrialised nations, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, who took over in December after his predecessor quit following a crushing defeat in a reform referendum.
Wang confirmed the presence of the presidents of Russia and the Philippines as among 28 leaders coming, along with the Spanish, Greek, Hungarian, Serb and Polish prime ministers and Swiss and Czech presidents.
"This is a positive, cooperative agreement, and we don't want to politicise it," Wang told reporters when asked if China was upset at the absence of most major Western leaders.
"This is an economic cooperation forum, an international cooperation platform that everyone is paying attention to, supports and hopes to participate in," he said, adding representatives of 110 countries would come.
British finance minister Philip Hammond will come as May's representative, while Germany and France are having elections at the time and will send high-level representatives, Wang said.
"They have explained to us many times, France has elections in May, as does Germany about then, so their leaders originally were really willing to attend. This is not a platitude, it's the real information we got."
China is sensitive to any suggestion that what it sees as its benign intentions do not have a receptive global audience, especially in Western capitals.
China was privately upset in 2015 after most Western leaders rebuffed invitations to attend a big military parade through Beijing marking 70 years since the end of World War Two.
Western leaders were unhappy that the guest list that included Russian President Vladimir Putin and wary of the message China would send with the show of strength.

More News For this Category

Civilian deaths surge in Raqqa as IS tactics slow US-backed advances

Civilian deaths surge in Raqqa as IS tactics slow US-backed advances

VOA News :As U.S.-backed forces continue to make slow progress in their offensive to oust Islamic State (IS) from its self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa, thousands of civilians who are

6th Aussie politician declares duel nationality

6th Aussie politician declares duel nationality

Reuters, Canberra :Australia's widening citizenship crisis entangled a seventh politician on Friday, a key independent senator whose support is critical for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to pass legislation through

Spanish police shoot five suspects dead after terror attack kills 13 in Barcelona

Spanish police shoot five suspects dead after terror attack kills 13 in Barcelona

Reuters, Barcelona :Spain launched a sweeping anti-terrorism operation on Friday, shooting dead five would-be attackers after a suspected Islamist militant drove a van into crowds in Barcelona, killing 13

News In Brief

Paris police evacuate 2,000 migrantsAFP, Paris French police moved out around 2,000 migrants from a makeshift camp in an area north of Paris on Friday, the 35th evacuation operation

US, Japan to advance security, defence ties with India, South Korea and Australia

US, Japan to advance security, defence ties with India, South Korea and Australia

PTI, Washington :The US and Japan have agreed to advance their multilateral security and defence cooperation with India, South Korea and Australia in view of North Korea's dangerous provocative

First group of Qatari pilgrims enter Saudi Arabia by land

First group of Qatari pilgrims enter Saudi Arabia by land

Reuters, Dubai :Qatari pilgrims began arriving in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, Saudi media reported, after Riyadh said it was opening up its border and airports for those attending the

Flood marooned people in Indian states, eases in Nepal

Flood marooned people in Indian states, eases in Nepal

AP, Lucknow :Monsoon flooding is easing in Nepal, but the water flowing downriver has worsened floods in northern India and marooned thousands of villagers across the border, officials said

Assad's march east compounds West's Syria dilemma

Assad's march east compounds West's Syria dilemma

Reuters, Beirut :Syria's war has entered a new phase as President Bashar al-Assad extends his grip in areas being captured from Islamic State, using firepower freed by Russian-backed truces

China military criticises 'wrong' US moves on Taiwan, South China Sea

China military criticises 'wrong' US moves on Taiwan, South China Sea

Reuters, Beijing :The "wrong" actions of the United States on Taiwan, its South China Sea patrols and deployment of an advanced anti-missile system in South Korea have had a large,

News In Brief

Trump at Camp David for Afghanistan talksAFP, Washington US President Donald Trump will meet Friday with his national security team at Camp David, as he mulls whether or not