China says 90 countries have confirmed their participation in the Belt and Road Initiative

BEIJING (Reuters) – China said on Thursday that 90 countries had confirmed their participation in October’s Belt and Road Initiative conference.

The Foreign Ministry has already announced that the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) will take place in Beijing in October. 2023 marks the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

According to state media, several foreign leaders are expected, including Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Argentine President Alberto Fernandez.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has also scheduled a visit to China in October when the country hosts the One Belt One Road forum, Putin’s adviser Yuri Ushakov said recently, according to Russia’s state news agency TASS.

“We received an invitation and we plan to go to China,” Ushakov said, according to a Global Times report.

Political cartoons about world leaders

According to Xinhua, China’s Foreign Ministry said the country had signed Silk Road cooperation documents with more than 150 countries and over 30 international organizations.

“Over the past decade, the Belt and Road cooperation has achieved fruitful results,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a recent news conference, adding that they have launched more than 3,000 cooperation projects and invested more than nearly $1 trillion, state media reported.

Critics see President Xi Jinping’s ambitious Belt and Road initiative — which it says will replicate the ancient Silk Road to strengthen global trade infrastructure — as a tool for President Xi Jinping’s China to expand its geopolitical and economic influence.

Debate in the West over economic dependence on China has cast a shadow over longer-term trade and investment ties with Beijing. Italy, the only country in the Group of Seven in the Belt and Road, said a previous government’s decision to join was “cruel”.

(Reporting by Andrew Hayley; Text by Bernard Orr; Editing by Alison Williams and Kim Coghill)

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