The US and the newly formed government of South Korea will send official representatives to attend the two-day high-profile Belt and Road Forum (BRF) in Beijing, which begins on Sunday.
Representatives from the two countries will join 29 heads of state and official delegations from several other countries at the forum, where China is expected to share more details of President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a multi-billion dollar connectivity initiative comprising trade and infrastructure projects.
Also known as the One Belt, One Road project, the BRI comprises two connectivity initiatives — the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
India is yet to officially announce whether it will attend the BRF. Given its opposition to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project under the BRI, and apprehension that it will enhance and strengthen China’s strategic and economic clout, it seems increasingly unlikely that New Delhi will be officially represented at the forum.
“There are Indian scholars coming to attend the relevant events,” Geng Shuang, ministry of foreign affairs spokesperson said on Friday at the regular ministry briefing.
On Friday, it was announced that Matt Pottinger, senior director for East Asia of the US’s National Security Council, will lead the delegation from Washington.
“The United States recognises the importance of China’s One Belt and One Road initiative and is to send delegates to attend the Belt and Road Forum May 14-15 in Beijing,” a joint release by China’s finance and commerce ministries on Friday said.
Finance vice minister Zhu Guangyao said that Washington’s attendance at the summit was a concrete result of Xi’s trade plan.
On Friday, South Korea’s participation was also confirmed, with Park Byeong Seug of the ruling Democratic Party expected to be present at the forum. Reports from Seoul quoted a government official as saying that the Chinese government had recently sent an official invitation to attend the forum.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will attend the forum as well.
Besides heads of states, the forum will be attended by UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde and World Bank President Kim Yong.