China to host Belt and Road forum in Beijing Oct 17-18

Beijing (Reuters) – China will host the third Belt and Road Forum in Beijing from Oct. 17 to 18, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

The conference marks the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) championed by President Xi Jinping, with representatives from many developing countries, notably from Latin America and Africa, expected to attend.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is also scheduled to meet Xi for talks in Beijing and attend the forum.

The BRI is a global infrastructure development strategy China launched a decade ago to connect Asia with Africa and Europe through land and maritime routes.

But critics see the plan – billed as recreating the ancient Silk Road to boost global trade infrastructure – as a tool for China to spread its geopolitical and economic influence.

China’s foreign ministry said the country had signed Belt and Road cooperation documents with more than 150 countries and over 30 international organizations.

Italy, the only Group of Seven nation in Belt and Road, has publicly criticised joining the initiative with its foreign minister recently saying trade between Italy and China had not improved since Rome joined four years ago.

(Reporting by Liz Lee, Bernard Orr and Ethan Wang; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Miral Fahmy)