Leaders from across Africa, South America, and other emerging market nations have descended upon Beijing for the highly anticipated Third Belt and Road Forum.
This significant gathering, organized by the Chinese government, celebrates the 10th anniversary of the ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a global infrastructure project aimed at galvanizing trade and driving economic growth.
The delegation of African leaders includes prominent figures such as Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Congolese President Denis Sassou N’guesso, and Nigerian Governor Kashim Shettima. They are joined by an array of world leaders, including Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe, Papua New Guinean Prime Minister James Marape, and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet. Others, like Chilean President Gabriel Boric and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, have already arrived, while more are expected to join in the coming days.
The eagerly anticipated summit, which began on October 17th, marks the third Belt and Road Forum for international cooperation. It serves as a momentous occasion to reflect on a decade of the BRI, a brainchild of China that was launched ten years ago.
Under President Xi Jinping’s leadership, the initiative has seen Chinese companies undertake vast infrastructure projects around the world, ranging from ports and roads to power plants. The overarching goal is to boost global trade and stimulate economic growth on a global scale.
However, as the initiative reaches its ten-year milestone, some observers have noted a potential slowdown in momentum. China’s increased risk aversion, coupled with its domestic economy’s struggle to regain pre-pandemic growth levels, may be contributing to this perception. These factors have generated a level of uncertainty surrounding the future trajectory of the BRI.
The main events of this two-day meeting are scheduled for Wednesday, where global organizations will be in attendance, setting the stage for critical discussions and collaborations.
The forum will provide a platform for leaders to discuss the achievements and challenges of the BRI over the past decade, as well as ways to further enhance cooperation and address any concerns. It is expected that topics such as sustainable development, digital connectivity, and green infrastructure will be high on the agenda.
For African leaders, the Belt and Road Initiative presents both opportunities and challenges. On one hand, it offers the potential for much-needed infrastructure development, improving connectivity, and boosting trade. On the other hand, there are concerns about debt sustainability and potential dependency on Chinese investment. African countries will be looking to strike a balance between benefiting from the initiative while safeguarding their economic sovereignty.