Even as the Silk Road keeps cropping up during Chinese interactions with Europe, China’s Xinjiang province will host fifty-five cities from 17 countries, including Britain, Germany, Russia and France, for a Silk Road development forum later this month, officials said on Monday.
The “Silk Road Economic Belt Cities Cooperation and Development Forum” will be held from July 23 to 25 in the regional capital of Urumqi.
Global delegates “will exchange development experience and explore cooperation in trade, industry, the Internet and infrastructure,” Chinese state agency Xinhua quoted the local government of Urumqi.
In March this year, China’s President Xi Jinping said he hoped its annual trade with the countries involved in Beijing’s plan to create a modern Silk Road would surpass $2.5 trillion in a decade.
Under the so-called “One Belt, One Road” initiative, China aims to create a modern Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road to boost trade and extend its global influence.
China’s Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said previously that more than 50 countries had shown interest in the initiative.
This will be the third time that Urumqi has hosted the forum. The first and second were held in November 2013 and September 2014.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has also promised to invest billions of dollars into Europe’s new infrastructure fund last month.
EU governments have been keen to build links with China as part of their efforts to get European companies trading with fast-growing emerging markets.
“Connecting British firms and markets to China’s extraordinary expansion is a key part of our economic plan, because it brings jobs and investment to our country,” British Finance Minister George Osborne said earlier.
The Silk Road connected China and Europe from around 100 B.C.
The 4,000-mile road linked ancient Chinese, Indian, Babylonian, Arabic, Greek and Roman civilizations.
A new map unveiled by Xinhua shows the Chinese plans for the Silk Road run through Central China to the northern Xinjiang from where it travels through Central Asia entering Kazakhstan and onto Iraq, Iran, Syria and then Istanbul in Turkey from where it runs across Europe cutting across Germany, Netherlands and Italy.
The maritime Silk Road begins in China’s Fujian and ends at Venice, Italy.
The network would include building railways, highways, oil and gas pipelines, power grids, Internet networks, maritime and other infrastructure links.
Earlier last year, China announced a $40 billion Silk Road Fund to strengthen connectivity in the Asia-Pacific region.
The new Silk Road, covers 18 Asian and European countries with a population of about three billion people.
Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the Silk Road Economic Belt in 2013 as an overland network focused on boosting international trade and cooperation on infrastructure projects with Central, South and West Asian countries.
Hungary becomes the first European country to join China’s “One Belt, One Road” project. The Silk Road could be the second China-led project in recent months to attract a flurry of EU participation.
US-based Baker McKenzie research shows Chinese investment into Europe is at record levels. With 153 separate investments worth $18 billion last year, Europe has emerged as one of the top destinations for Chinese foreign investment globally.
In addition to trade efforts, China is seeking to boost its global influence by signing up countries to its Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
Half of the European Union including Germany, Britain, France, Italy are founding members of the AIIB.
TBP and Agencies