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China's Xi appeals to foreign leaders for freer trade

Xi said the project has "no political agenda".

Regretting New Delhi's opposition to Beijing's Belt and Road project, the state-run Chinese media today said that a "nervous" India can not stop its neighbours from joining China's ambitious project even if it wants to stay out of it.

"This is an important lesson that can be drawn from the global financial crisis and is still very relevant to the development of the world economy today", Xi added.

Hours before the summit opened, North Korea launched another ballistic missile, further testing the patience of China, its chief ally.

New Delhi, which had been non-committal about attending the forum despite repeated offers by Beijing, made its intentions clear about skipping the event.

Xi pledged a major funding boost to the new Silk Road, including an extra 100 billion yuan ($14.50 billion) into the existing Silk Road Fund, 380 billion yuan in loans from two policy banks and 60 billion yuan in aid to developing countries and worldwide bodies in countries along the new trade routes.

Xi also said that the Chinese government would encourage its overseas yuan-investment funds to expand their commitments by about $40 billion.

He, however, did not give a time frame for the new loans, aid and funding pledged on Sunday.

Leaders from 29 countries attended the Belt and Road forum, as well as the heads of the United Nations, International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

"We should intensify counter-terrorism efforts, address both its symptoms and root causes, and strive to eradicate poverty and social injustice", he said.

"Unprofitable investments are not good for anybody", said Andras Vertes, chairman of GKI Economic Research.

White House adviser Matt Pottinger said the United States welcomed efforts by China to promote infrastructure connectivity as part of its Belt and Road initiative, and US companies could offer top value services.

China also sought to ally India's fear of meddling in the Kashmir dispute through the planned road, saying the $46 billion project will not affect its position on the matter.

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The country's External Affairs Ministry spokesperson said Saturday that India can not accept a project that violates its sovereignty and territorial integrity. They are also concerned about transparency and access for foreign companies.

The strategy includes two key areas of development such as economic belt of the Silk Road and the Sea Silk Road.

Other countries expressed unease with OBOR, however. "We will not export our system of society and development model, and even more will not impose our views on others".

Beijing is hosting the Belt and Road forum on 14-15 May.

"Spanning thousands of miles and years, the ancient silk routes embody the spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit", Xi Jinping said, stressing that "the Silk Road spirit has become a great heritage of human civilization".

Yesterday's summit, meanwhile, was overshadowed by the fatal shooting of 10 labourers on 13 May, who were working on road projects connected to the CPEC project in southwestern Pakistan's Balochistan province, where violence committed by separatists is a continuing threat.

The North Korean delegation largely kept a low profile at the summit, and there was no evidence that its presence had affected participation despite USA misgivings. The event, he said, provided a unique impetus for an global concerted effort to promote "a more balanced, equitable and inclusive development along the Belt and Road".

China insists that OBOR will be open to participation from all countries, including Europe, Africa and the Americas, which are not situated on the traditional Silk Road.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday urged world leaders to coordinate policies on development and reject protectionism within the framework of the Belt and Road initiative, his ambitious worldwide investment plan.

Some Belt and Road projects are already raising concerns in certain countries. China, on the other hand, has called CPEC a flagship of the ambitious One Belt One Road (OBOR) project.

"The main reason behind India staying out of the forum is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, part of which passes through the disputed territory of Kashmir", Kukarni told the daily.

Aziz also praised the Chinese leadership for proposing the BRI.

While the summit has been given nearly non-stop coverage on Chinese state-run television, attention at the event was distracted by North Korea's latest missile test on Sunday.

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