Belt and Road Latest: Forum for Xi’s Signature Project Starts in Beijing

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(Bloomberg) — Russian leader has arrived in Beijing as China kicks off its Belt and Road Forum in a bid to reinvigorate the infrastructure investment initiative that President has called the “project of the century.”

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The trip abroad is rare for Putin, who has an arrest warrant issued against him by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in Ukraine. Putin is expected to attend the forum, Chinese state media reported, and meet Xi on Wednesday. The two are likely to focus on their growing relationship, which Washington and Brussels view with caution amid the war in Ukraine.



Among the speakers scheduled to address a CEO conference on Tuesday afternoon are Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee and Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng, Xi’s point man for shoring up the nation’s embattled property industry and the financial sector.

(All timestamps are Beijing time)

Xi Calls Kazakhstan President an ‘Old Friend’ (9:50 a.m.)

China’s President Xi Jinping met Kazakhstan’s President in Beijing on Tuesday, China Central Television reports. Calling Tokayev an “old friend,” Xi said he wants to advance China’s strategic partnership with the Central Asian country, according to the report.

A healthy and stable relationship between China and Kazakhstan is beneficial to maintaining peace and stability in the region, Xi added.

China Adjusting to Debt Worries, Scholar Says (8:38 a.m.)

Beijing has realized that “through the Belt and Road it’s found itself suddenly carrying an awful lot of debt with a lot of countries that frankly are going to struggle to ever really pay it back in any way,” Raffaello Pantucci, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, told Bloomberg TV.

That’s led it to champion more “small and beautiful” projects that don’t cost as much but still benefit people’s livelihoods, he said.

Overseas Visitors Arrive in Beijing (8:30 a.m.)

Guests are descending on the Chinese capital for the forum, which comes as China celebrates the 10th anniversary of the flagship initiative. While the project has drawn $1 trillion in its first decade, momentum has tapered in recent years amid concern over debt sustainability.

Among those that have arrived include Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Chilean President Gabriel Boric. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is in Beijing as well and has met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who said the Communist Party is prepared to boost its relationship with the Labour Party.

–With assistance from Colum Murphy and Phila Siu.

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