China is playing host to the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation that began on Thursday in Beijing. Nearly 40 foreign leaders and representatives from more than 150 countries will gather to discuss President Xi Jinping’s ambitious plan and stocktake projects carried out over the last five years.
In October 2017, the Belt and Road Initiative was written into the Communist Party’s Constitution signalling an all-out effort to realize the vision.
The BRI aims to connect Asia, Europe and Africa. Recently, the BRI was given a huge boost with Italy endorsing it. The Belt refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt which comprises three overland routes: connecting China, Central Asia, Russia and Europe.
This will link China with the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea through Central Asia and West Asia, and connecting China with Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Indian Ocean.
Meanwhile, the Road refers to the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road designed to provide an impetus to trade from China to Europe through the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean, and from China through the South China Sea towards the South Pacific.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in a press conference to announce the second edition of the BRF, said that over the past six years since the BRI came into effect, the trade volume between China and countries joining the BRI has surpassed $6 trillion with more than $80 million of Chinese investment in those countries.
Recently, China has also included several other subjects under the BRI-fold. It has envisioned a Digital Silk Road that will showcase its advances in hi-tech communication technologies, the Green Silk Road to reverse emissions and even a Polar Silk Road expanding the BRI to the Arctic. With China’s focus on launching its Beidou-series which is a global positioning system, it is also looking at a Space Silk Road.