China calls for cooperation on ‘Belt and Road’ project

China on Friday urged the United States and India to cooperate with Beijing on its massive “Belt and Road” project, a mega initiative to build a transcontinental network of railroads and shipping lanes.

At a news conference in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that Washington should not prevent other countries from taking part in Beijing’s plan for boosting global trade and connectivity, South China Morning Post reported.

“The Belt and Road Initiative is not a geopolitical tool but a platform for cooperation,” Wang told reporters. “We welcome all parties to take part in it.”

The project, also known as “One Belt, One Road”, is a multi-billion-dollar project launched by Chinese President Xi when he came to power in 2013 which aims to rebuild the old Silk route linking Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea routes.

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is its flagship part of the initiative worth $60 billion which connects western China to Gwadar port in the Arabian Sea running through Pakistan and its part of disputed Jammu and Kashmir.

“All countries have the freedom to participate, but they don’t have the right to prevent other countries from taking part,” the daily quoted Wang as telling reporters on the sidelines of a three-day event which was expected to attract about 40 foreign leaders.

“We hope that more countries, including the United States, can actively participate [in the project].”

Regional power India has opposed CPEC and it boycotted a similar conference on “One Belt, One Road” in 2017.

Wang urged New Delhi to “shed its opposition”.

“It [CPEC] no way undermined basic position on the Kashmir dispute,” he said.

New Delhi had protested against CPEC for “sovereignty concerns”.

Wang said 37 heads of state and governments are participating in the conference besides representatives from over 150 countries and 90 international organizations.

Leaders of Pakistan and Nepal are among the countries taking part in the meeting. The U.S. is sending only low-level representatives to the event.

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