China's Xi says Belt and Road needs to reject protectionism

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"Many countries are pondering the way forwards", he added.

"We applaud China for taking this historic initiative, which now has the complete ownership of all participating countries", he added. "China is powerful, they are growing".

Australian Trade Minister Steven Ciobo said on Sunday Canberra was receptive to exploring commercial opportunities presented by the initiative, but any decisions would remain incumbent on national interest.

They agree to encourage financial institutions to establish commercial presence in relevant countries and regions, promote bilateral local currency settlement and cooperation agreements, and facilitate the development of local currency bonds and stock markets, and encourage dialogues to enhance financial cooperation and fend off financial risks, it said. Therefore, he must take the lead. "The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as part of the Belt and Road is not about conflicts with various countries and will not affect China's position on Kashmir issue", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said. "The Belt and Road programme should entrench this role further but until now it has been mostly a catchy phrase to go along with talk about China's global economic strategy".

There is also considerable skepticism over China's commitment to free trade.

He was speaking at the Leaders' Roundtable on Policy Synergy in Beijing on Monday.

The foreign ministry also cited concerns about the "unsustainable debt burden" China's partner countries along the route would have to bear.

Tom Rafferty, a China analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, agrees.

"Based on the principle of mutual benefit we need to identify, to the maximum extent possible, the positive effects of the tax system and limit its negative impact", Wang Jun said and emphasized the need to continue strengthening the neutrality and transparency of the tax system and avoiding the obstacles in cross-border trade. "The worldwide community's warm response to the Belt and Road Forum for global cooperation also speaks volumes for that". He said deep-seated problems in global development had yet to be addressed effectively, with worldwide trade and investment sluggish, and economic globalisation encountering headwinds.

"If India sees itself as a big power, it should get accustomed to the many divergences with China, and try to manage these divergences with China".

"By any objective measure, it simply is not even close, even with the new Trump administration", Balding said.

In closing remarks, made before journalists who were not permitted to ask questions, Xi vowed to host another Belt and Road forum in 2019.

By the end of 2016, China signed more than 300 cultural agreements with countries along the Belt and Road and set up 11 centers on Chinese culture in those countries.

Trump has taken a markedly more skeptical view on climate change than his predecessor however, with many speculating he will pull the United States out of the Paris agreement entirely.

According to him, Africa should also take advantage of China's vast experience in infrastructure development.

"China is absolutely investing. large sums of money in renewables like solar and wind", he said.

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