China to resume Belt and Road Forum in 2023: Xi  

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Belt & Road is Xi’s signature infrastructure investment initiative, and previous editions of the forum, in 2017 and 2019, drew leaders and officials from dozens of countries….reports Asian Lite News

Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Friday that China would consider hosting the third Belt & Road Forum for International Cooperation next year, which would be the first staging of the event since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Belt & Road is Xi’s signature infrastructure investment initiative, and previous editions of the forum, in 2017 and 2019, drew leaders and officials from dozens of countries.

However, China has all-but-shut its borders since COVID and cancelled most big in-person international events that it had been due to host.

China has recently begun to ease some elements of its strict zero-COVID policy, even as the country battles surging outbreaks in numerous cities, with many analysts predicting more significant opening up starting in March or April.

Xi was speaking on Friday at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) gathering in Bangkok.

In February, Beijing staged the Winter Olympics inside a “closed loop”.

China has recently begun to ease some elements of its strict zero-COVID-19 policy, even as the country battles surging outbreaks in numerous cities, with many analysts predicting a more significant opening up starting in March or April.

Xi was speaking on Friday at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) gathering in Bangkok, where the APEC leaders assembled to discuss ways to promote sustainable development and facilitate trade and investment.

The (B&R) Initiative is a global infrastructure development strategy adopted by the Chinese government in 2013, to invest in nearly 150 countries and international organizations.

BRI back on track

China has announced approval for infrastructure projects in mainland Southeast Asia at this year’s round of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summits. Beijing’s announcement on Thursday indicated that Belt and Road initiative is back on agenda after almost three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, VOA News reported.

The infrastructure projects announced by China include a $1.6 billion expressway to be developed from Phnom Penh to Bavet at the Cambodian – Vietnamese border. In addition, Beijing announced support for a rail link between Phnom Penh, Bangkok and Vientiane, from where a high-speed rail link has already been made into China, as per the VOA News report.

During the signing ceremony, Cambodian Public Works and Transport Minister Sun Chanthol said that the expressway will connect with Vietnam’s expressway between Ho Chi Minh City and the Moc Bai border gate with Bavet.

Chanthol said that both projects are expected to be completed by the end of 2026 or early 2027. He said that the projects will help to create a key link with Asian Highway 1, connecting China through Myanmar to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Sun Chanthol announced that the length of the expressway will be 138 kilometres and will include one long bridge. He said that the estimated cost for the construction of the expressway is less than that of the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway.

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