China pledges impressive package for B&R countries

By Nandalal Tiwari, Beijing, May 14: As a matter of joy for countries like Nepal which have joined the Belt and Road Initiative, China has pledged an impressive package of assistance, cooperation and projects for enhancing connectivity and ushering in inclusive development.

In his keynote speech at the inaugural ceremony of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on Sunday here, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced an increase in the Silk Road fund, number of scholarship to students studying in China from countries along the Belt and Road, launching of 100 happy home projects and 100 health related programmes in the BR countries and providing assistance of 8.7 billion US dollar for food security and the BRI related organisations in the developing countries within next three years.

President Xi said some 10,000 scholarships would be provided to study in China for students from B&R countries while some 50 joint scientific laboratories will be set up along the Belt and Road countries.

Heads of state and government of some 29 countries including Russian President Vladimir Putin attended the Forum while other delegates include officials, entrepreneurs, financier and journalists from over 130 countries.

Representatives of key international organizations, such as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, and Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde also attended the event.

The United States sent a delegation led by Matt Pottinger, special assistant to the president and senior director for Asia at the National Security Council although India did not send any government ministerial level representative to attend the Forum.

On part of Nepal, a delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara attended the Forum. Information and Communications Minister Surendra Kumar Karki delivered his speech at the thematic session on the Connectivity of Development Policies and Strategies.

"The China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China will set up special lending schemes respectively worth RMB 250 billion and RMB 130 billion to support Belt and Road cooperation on infrastructure, industrial capacity and financing," President Xi said.

The Belt and Road Initiative, put forward by Xi in 2013, aims to boost interconnection and trade between Asia and the rest of the world while some 65 countries are considered to be along the Belt and Road. The Forum will conclude on Monday.

By all means, the forum, which also features a round-table summit of global leaders on Monday, is one of the premium gatherings in today's world, and the most prestigious international assembly China has ever inaugurated, Chinese media reported.

Addressing the inaugural ceremony, Russian President Putin said that the BRI was an innovative development model put forward by President Xi at a time when many old models of development had exhausted.

In his address to the inaugural session, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan focused on trade facilitation and intergovernmental cooperation. He said that Turkey’s middle corridor project connects China with Europe.

Addressing the inaugural ceremony UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that as the path to prosperity for many countries had remained elusive they need official assistance. He pointed at the need to fulfill promise not to leave anyone behind.

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