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19 April 2017, 09:47 | Ignacio Smith
Most major Western leaders to skip China's New Silk Road summit
"This is the economic initiative and it deals with the economic cooperation, so we do not want it to be politicized", Wang said at a briefing answering the question, whether some Western leaders did not confirm their participation due to lack of understanding of the initiative.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi yesterday announced a list of those attending the conference, including some of China's most reliable allies, such as Russian President Vladimir Putin, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.
The initiative consists of two components, the land-based Silk Road Economic Belt from Asia via the Middle East to Europe and Maritime Silk Road connecting China's port facilities with the east African coast, leading to Europe via the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.
So far, 28 heads of state and government including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and over 80 leaders of global organisations have agreed to take part in the forum.
China says its One Belt and One Road (OBOR) vision is open for all countries which share the same goals of collective development.
British finance minister Philip Hammond will come as May's representative, while Germany and France are having elections at the time and will send high-level representatives, Wang said.
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Still, at a time of uncertainty about the USA place in the world following President Donald Trump's pledges to put America first, China sees an opportunity to become more of a global leader and has found a receptive audience for its New Silk Road. "This is not a platitude, it's the real information we got".
"What Western leader wants to sit on the same stage as Putin?" said one senior Beijing-based Western diplomat who is familiar with the planning for the summit, speaking on condition of anonymity.
But as the new USA administration continues to insist on emphasizing a new "America first" foreign policy direction, China is seizing the opportunity to gain more influence on the global stage. The attendance list for the summit is marked by the notable absence of leaders from major Western countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany and Canada.
Prof. Zhang Yong-Peng, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), in Beijing, China said this on Tuesday.
In effect, the Chinese foreign minister rejected India's case saying that the CPEC has no connections with China's border dispute with Pakistan.
A senior Indonesian government official said China was aiming for a "spectacular" summit."The Chinese are gunning for. global leadership so I think this OBOR summit is going to be huge", the official said.
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