China aims to boost an open and inclusive economy by hosting a high-level forum on the Belt and Road Initiative. According to the country's top diplomat, this is amid rising protectionism and loud voices against globalization.
The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation will be held in Beijing on May 14 and 15. It aims to "explore ways to address problems facing the global and regional economies," as stated by State Councilor Yang Jiechi.
Observers said that the forum will be the biggest diplomatic event hosted by China this year amid Beijing's efforts to advocate cooperation and inter-connectivity in order to invigorate the global economy.
The Silk Road Economic Belt as well as the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road were proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013. Both aim to boost inter-connectivity by reviving the ancient trade routes with a focus on infrastructure.
More than 100 international organizations and countries have joined the initiative, and 40 of which have signed cooperation agreements with China.
Last month, Xi announced the Belt and Road forum in his keynote speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Xi said that it will be a platform for the countries to look for solutions to global economic problems.
Yang confirmed that leaders from 20 countries that represent Asia, Europe, Latin America and Africa have confirmed their participation.
China will also invite representatives of global organizations, former foreign heads of states, ministerial delegations, business leaders, experts and scholars to join the discussions with regard to promoting cooperation.
The forum will have the theme "Belt and Road: Cooperation for Common Prosperity." Its agenda will focus on connectivity of policy, trade, transportation, finance and people.
Yang said, "The initiative is not an empty slogan, but a series of concrete actions to boost connectivity and infrastructure development."
"The Belt and Road forum is expected to boost the world's confidence toward globalization when some countries turn to protectionism while facing economic slowdown," said Wang Yiwei, a professor of international relationship studies at Renmin University of China.