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Pakistan, China Sign $500 Million In Deals As Silk Road Summit Opens In Beijing

Chinese President Xi Jinping (file photo) is looking to develop the Silk Road.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (file photo) is looking to develop the Silk Road.

Pakistan says it has signed new deals with China worth nearly $500 million, giving a boost to Beijing’s Silk Road trade and infrastructure initiative for Asia, Africa, and Europe at the opening of a major international summit.

Officials on May 13 said the deals add to the $57 billion already pledged for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The CPEC effort consists of rail, road, and energy infrastructure and is part of the wider Chinese project known as the “Belt and Road” initiative.

The two-day Silk Road summit, which began in Beijing on May 14, is expected to draw leaders from at least 29 countries as part of Chinese President Xi Jinping's drive to expand trade links.

At the opening ceremony, Xi promised to provide $8.70 billion in aid to countries and international organizations that participate in the Silk Road plan. He said the project is open to everyone, including Europe and Africa.

The Belt and Road initiative involves some 65 countries, and the China Development Bank has set $890 billion for about 900 projects.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived in Beijing for the summit, and Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan is also expected to attend.

Putin, speaking at the opening of the event, told participants that protectionism is a threat to the global economy.

Few Western leaders will attend, although the prime ministers of Italy, Spain, and Greece are expected. The United States has sent a senior White House adviser.

The U.S.-based Human Rights Watch on May 13 raised concerns about the treatment of people along the new Silk Road route in western China that borders Central Asia.

The group said Chinese authorities have "heightened surveillance and repression to prevent potential unrest that could impede" the project in the Xinjiang region, which is the homeland of the Turkic-speaking and mainly Muslim Uyghur ethnic group.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters