Chinese President Xi Jinping has warned against decoupling from China and criticised Western efforts to reduce dependence on the Chinese economy. He praised his grand plan of building global infrastructure and energy networks connecting Asia with Africa and Europe through overland and maritime routes, stating that “blueprints turned into real projects.”
Over 130 countries, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, attended the Belt and Road Initiative forum. Xi emphasized the importance of reducing dependence on China and viewed economic interdependence as a risk.
Western economies have become top priority in reducing their dependence on China due to Beijing’s threats to Taiwan and the trade disruptions of the pandemic years. The forum was attended by representatives from over 130 countries, including Putin and other foreign leaders.
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was initially intended to connect China to Western Europe, but senior EU figures were absent. Hungary’s President Viktor Orban was the only head of state present, and the Afghan Taliban administration’s commerce minister Haji Nooruddin Azizi was also present. Western scepticism of Xi Jinping’s plans stems from concerns over extending China’s global influence. China has sometimes criticized the BRI, claiming it carries anti-Chinese prejudice and aims to contain its rise.
Putin praised the BRI and invited global investment in the Northern Sea route, claiming it could deepen trade between the east and west. Xi is making the BRI smaller and greener, shifting from big-ticket projects like dams to high-tech ones like digital finance and e-commerce platforms.
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) aims to promote a multi-polar world order, giving the Global South more agency. The BRI has become more focused on climate change and artificial intelligence, as Xi seeks to export Chinese governance ideas and build consensus around Chinese norms and development models.
Xi has pledged to deepen cooperation in green infrastructure, energy, and transportation, and propose a global initiative for artificial intelligence governance. A European business representative noted that the BRI is creating impact for some countries and improving livelihood and connectivity.