17 Arab countries have signed a spate of cooperation deals with Beijing on China’s multi-trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Xinhua News Agency reports.
The agreements were inked during the second China-Arab Forum on Reform and Development, which was held in Shanghai and attended by more than a hundred businessmen and politicians.
Apart from joining the Belt and Road Initiative, 12 Arab states also announced readiness to establish broader strategic partnerships with Beijing.
“The Arab representatives said the BRI cooperation with China brings immense opportunities to Arab countries to advance reform and accelerate growth,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang told a Wednesday press conference.
He added that the Sino-Arab cooperation on the BRI project will receive another “strong impetus” as many Arab state leaders are expected to attend the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, scheduled for later this month in Beijing.
This comes against the background of the BRI expanding globally, with Switzerland indicating its intent to sign up for the project earlier this week.
In late March, Rome approved the BRI in a move that makes Italy the first member of the Group of Seven (G7) powerful economies to join the Chinese project.
The Belt and Road Initiative, also known as the One Belt, One Road project, was first announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 and remains one of Xi’s most ambitious foreign policy and economic plans.
The goal is to strengthen cooperation between Eurasian countries and accelerate economic growth in the region. The project also stipulates promoting investment in projects that would link dozens of countries across Africa, Asia and Europe through the creation of infrastructure networks similar in purpose to the ancient Silk Road trading routes.