Sunday, June 25, 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

Macron puts national security at heart of foreign policy

Macron puts national security at heart of foreign policy

Reuters, Paris :President Emmanuel Macron is starting to realign France's foreign policy, setting out plans to be less interventionist in conflicts abroad and putting his country's national security at

Ivanka ordered to testify in dispute with shoe company

Ivanka ordered to testify in dispute with shoe company

AP, New York :Ivanka Trump must testify in a dispute with an Italian shoemaker over one of her company's shoe designs, a judge said Friday.U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest

London council evacuates tower blocks as fire fallout widens

London council evacuates tower blocks as fire fallout widens

AP, London :The scope of Britain's fire-safety crisis broadened Saturday after a local government agency evacuated four public housing towers due to concerns about fire doors and the insulation

News In Brief

Death toll in Pakistan attacks climbs to 61AP, PeshawarThe death toll from twin blasts in the northwestern town of Parachinar climbed to 45 overnight, bringing the overall death toll

Priorities, nature of ties with India, Pakistan different:WH

Priorities, nature of ties with India, Pakistan different:WH

PTI, Washington :Asserting that the US' ties with India and Pakistan were not a 'zero-sum game', the White House has said that the Trump administration's priorities and the nature

White House dubs Gulf crisis 'a family issue'

White House dubs Gulf crisis 'a family issue'

AFP, Washington :The White House said Friday it considers the deepening crisis in the Gulf to be primarily "a family issue," urging regional leaders to chart a way out

Senate Republicans unveil Obamacare replacement bill after months of closed-door crafting

Senate Republicans unveil Obamacare replacement bill after months of closed-door crafting

Reuters, Washington :U.S. Senate Republicans on Thursday unveiled their version of legislation that would replace Obamacare, proposing to kill a tax on the wealthy that pays for it and

In just a year, Republicans became far more skeptical of claims of racism

In just a year, Republicans became far more skeptical of claims of racism

AP, Washington :Republican attitudes toward African-Americans hardened significantly in 2016, according to an authoritative new study.Only 32 percent of Republican voters in 2016 said they believe that African-Americans face

EU leaders boost support for Libya to halt migrant exodus

EU leaders boost support for Libya to halt migrant exodus

AP, Brussels :European Union leaders are set Friday to boost their support for conflict-ravaged Libya as the number of people fleeing Africa from there for better lives in Europe

News In Brief

US must quit Afghanistan for peace: TalibanReuters, Kabul The Taliban warned on Friday against sending more Western troops to Afghanistan, while pledging that it sought only independence under Islamic