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China signs nearly 200 deals for new Silk Road projects & eyes further expansion

China signs nearly 200 deals for new Silk Road projects & eyes further expansion
China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), also known as “One Belt, One Road,” has already attracted nearly 170 participants, Chinese President Xi Jinping has announced, vowing to further develop the project.

“To date, China has signed 197 documents on Belt and Road cooperation with 137 countries and 30 international organizations,” he said in the opening speech at the China International Import Expo in Shanghai on Tuesday.

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The development of the initiative, which is aimed at boosting trade connections across the world and linking China with other countries, is a central part of plans to open up the Chinese market, according to Xi. Other proposed measures include boosting investment and imports, lowering tariffs, developing free-trade zones, improving business environment as well as deepening bilateral and multilateral cooperation.

“Standing at a new historical starting point, China will open its door only wider to the world,” Xi stated, calling for other countries to “stand firm against protectionism and unilateralism.”

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The ambitious BRI, launched in September 2013 by President Xi, could cost Beijing up to $1.3 trillion by 2027, according to Morgan Stanley’s estimates. China’s cumulative investment in the BRI countries has already surpassed $100 billion, with the value of the construction projects exceeding $720 billion, Vice-Minister of Commerce Qian Keming said in September.

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