Thu, May 18, 2017 - Page 9 News List

Xi positions China at center of a new economic order

By Jane Perlez and Keith Bradsher  /  NY Times News Service, BEIJING

US firms were eager to work on the projects, he said.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not turn up, concerned about the significant infusion of Chinese money into its rival Pakistan.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whose country has been a longtime ally of China, said he was proud to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with Beijing.

The Indian government said in a statement on the eve of the forum that the initiative risked “unsustainable debt burden for countries,” a worry expressed by some Western economists who have studied the program.

China is not giving aid, they say, but is asking countries to assume debt from Chinese banks to pay for the infrastructure.

Some officials from the US and Western Europe contend that China is spending abroad and corralling others to join it while keeping important sectors of its huge market at home off limits to foreign investors.

“The opening up of China for foreign businesses is still timid,” said Joerg Wuttke, the former head of the European Chamber of Commerce in China.

Hours before Xi was to speak, North Korea fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile.

Some delegates interpreted the test launch, the first since a new president took office in South Korea, as a deliberate effort to embarrass Xi.

Chinese news media were ordered to take down coverage of the launch an hour before Xi’s speech, Chinese reporters said.

Then, 30 minutes before Xi was to speak, the delegations from North Korea and South Korea met briefly, said a South Korean diplomat who spoke only on the condition of anonymity.

It was fairly normal procedure, the diplomat said, for those delegations to meet at international gatherings.

Still, the encounter seemed to symbolize China’s interest in arranging talks on the North among all the parties, including the US.

The South’s Yonhap news agency reported that Park Byeong-seok, a senior member of the South Korean Democratic Party, told the North’s delegation that his government “strongly objected” to the missile test.

The presence of the North Korean delegation, led by North Korean Minister of Economic Relations Kim Yong-jae at a highly choreographed event drew criticism from the US embassy in Beijing.

The Trump administration has asked China to exercise pressure on the North, but it is unclear what China has done to further cut its economic ties.

At Xi’s invitation, South Korean President Moon Jae-in sent Park to the forum, a spokesman for the South Korean leader said.

The two leaders shared a telephone conversation on Thursday last week, days after Moon was elected, setting the stage for tense relations between the countries to improve.

Park met former Chinese minister of foreign affairs Tang Jiaxuan (唐家璇) in Beijing on Monday, South Korea said.

Those talks were expected to center on China’s strong opposition to the deployment of a US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system in the South, and how Moon plans to walk a fine line between the US, its security guarantor, and China, its biggest trading partner.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs criticized the North’s missile launch, saying in a statement that it violated UN Security Council resolutions and asking for restraint.

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