Belt and Road Forum draws global leaders

Chinese President Xi Jinping is hosting friendly countries to mark 10 years of the 'project of the century'

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Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Beijing for a summit to mark the 10th anniversary of China's flagship global trade project.

Chinese state media reported that the Russian leader, who rarely travels abroad, met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping ahead of attending the Belt and Road Forum on Wednesday.

The forum centres on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a grand plan launched by Mr Xi a decade ago that he hopes would build global infrastructure and energy networks connecting Asia with Africa and Europe through overland and maritime routes.

More than 130 countries and international organisations are set to attend the forum, which is expected to produce a series of trade agreements.

Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, headed the UAE delegation. In 2019, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, announced that the UAE and China had agreed deals worth $3.4 billion (Dh12.49bn) to bolster their economic ties.

Mr Putin told Chinese state media ahead of his visit that he sees BRI projects as a sign of China's “desire for co-operation” abroad. He praised the initiative, saying it is a platform for international co-operation, where “no one imposes anything on others”.

Since the start of the Ukrainian war, Russia has cemented its energy ties with China as a sign of their economic co-operation.

Russia exports around 2.0 million barrels of oil per day to China and Moscow also aims to build a second natural gas pipeline to China.

Trade between the two countries rose 30 per cent in the first half of 2023 and is expected to exceed $200 billion by the end of the year, according to the Russian government.

Updated: October 18, 2023, 5:30 AM