China will hold its third Belt and Road Forum on Oct. 17 and 18, according to state media, as President Xi Jinping’s flagship initiative faces criticism for burdening developing nations with debt.
(Bloomberg) — China will hold its third Belt and Road Forum on Oct. 17 and 18, according to state media, as President Xi Jinping’s flagship initiative faces criticism for burdening developing nations with debt.
The dates for the event in Beijing were announced by the official Xinhua News Agency on Wednesday. The event will attract dignitaries from around the world including President Vladimir Putin.
The Russian leader is visiting Kyrgyzstan on Thursday, his office said in a statement late Wednesday. That marks the first time Putin has left his nation since a warrant for his arrest on alleged war crimes was issued by the International Criminal Court.
The gathering is Beijing’s latest attempt to shore up support for Xi’s controversial project that was launched in 2013 and has since funded some $900 billion in infrastructure and other projects.
Covid-related disruptions have slowed China’s pace of BRI investments, while member countries including Sri Lanka and Pakistan are struggling to pay back the money they borrowed. Criticism from the US, which has sought to brand China’s efforts as a debt trap, has also fueled skepticism of the initiative.
BRI suffered another blow last month after Italy, which in 2019 became the only Group of Seven signatory, told China it intends to quit.
There are already signs this year’s BRI forum might see a more muted attendance than the previous event in 2019, when 37 foreign state leaders turned up. European leaders including those of France, Germany, Greece and the Czech Republic are planning to skip the forum, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier.
(Updates with news of Putin’s visit to Kyrgyzstan.)
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