The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing on May 14-15 is intended to boost productivity, productive employment and scientific and technological advancement for countries all over the world. Some 110 countries will be represented, including 28 heads of state, and over 60 international organizations. Originally dubbed the New Silk Road, the Belt and Road Initiative is projected to equal some 20 Marshall Plans for the mutual, “win-win” benefit of all participants.
A recent statement of the Transport Ministry of China notes that more than 130 bilateral and regional transport agreements have already been signed; 356 international road routes have been opened; 4,200 direct flights connect China with 43 of the participating countries; and 39 China-Europe freight train routes are now in operation.
From Europe, the Presidents of the Czech Republic and Switzerland, and the Prime Ministers of Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Serbia and Spain will attend the Forum. Foreign Minister Wang Yi said London, Paris, and Berlin plan to send high-level representatives rather than heads of government, due to the elections. He also insisted that the event is economic in nature and “we do not want it to be politicized.” From the United States, it is unclear who will attend, but the LaRouche movement is strongly urging President Trump to go there in person.
The “highest guest of honor” of the Forum will be Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Zhang Dejiang, the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National Peoples Congress of China, who was in Moscow on April 19. The two governments plan to use the occasion to strengthen their strategic partnership, and to “conjugate” the One Belt, One Road and the Eurasian Economic Union (Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia).
Meanwhile, China’s GDP grew by 6.9% in the first-quarter of 2017, driven primarily by extraordinary investments in new infrastructure projects, both domestically and abroad. In terms of actual economic growth, the figures are impressive:
- China’s factory output grew by 7.6% in 1Q compared to the 1Q of 2016;
- Household disposable income of Chinese grew by 7.5%;
- Retail spending grew by 10.4%;
- Imports from other Asian countries grew by 22.7%,
- Imports from the United States increased by 11%;
- China’s steel production in the month of March reached 72.5 million metric tons – which is the total amount the U.S. economy produces in one year.