China comes of age on the world stage with its Silk Road program

With Donald Trump playing the home card, and with a disgruntled Britain opting out of the European Union, China seeks to capitalize on the billions it has sunk in on its much vaunted Silk Road program by presenting it as a platform to boost trade ties with Europe, Africa and Asia.

Having invested copious amounts on establishing its new Silk Road China sees Brexit as an opportunity so as to tap British investments into its One Belt, One Road initiative. As per diplomatic sources, China has invited British Prime Minister Theresa May to attend a major summit in China during May this year. London has clarified that May would visit China this year.

With Chinese President Xi Jinping’s landmark programme, “One Belt, One Road”, China has invested billions of dollars in infrastructure projects, including, ports, power grids and railways across Europe, Asia and Africa.

The country has dedicated $40 billion to a Silk Road Fund. The establishing of the new Silk Road is of strategic importance to China since that was the driving force for establishing a $50 billion Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank with its backing.

As for the summit in May, China has so far, given very few details as to who will attend the summit, which is to be held in Beijing.

Without disclosing actual relevant details, China’s State Councillor, Yang Jiechi, disclosed last week to the China Daily that around 20 countries, representing Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America, have confirmed their participation. Yang Jiechi did not provide any names.

According to a diplomatic source with direct knowledge of the matter, May was among the leaders who have been invited to the Summit.

“China is choosing the countries it sees as friends and who will be most influential in promoting ‘One Belt, One Road’,” revealed the source on the condition of anonymity.

Two other diplomatic sources have also confirmed May to be on the invitee list.

For China, the success of the summit is crucial to its world stage presence.

“It’s China’s most important diplomatic event of the year,” said one of the sources.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang has stated the plans for the summit are rolling smoothly and the details of the participants will be announced shortly.

“China welcomes Prime Minister May to visit China at the appropriate time,” said Lu during a daily news briefing.

From Asia, Sri Lanka has already confirmed its participation while Philippines has also confirmed its participation.

The China Pivot

With Britain opting out of the European Union, it could choose to dance with the dragon. May’s aides have confirmed that during her visit to China, May will focus on trade ties.

May’s foreign trips are of strategic nature since with them she is trying to cement trade relations for Britain, as it is likely to opt out of the world’s single largest market bloc.

May is likely to strengthen her hand before she launches into Brexit negotiations, which are likely to be the most complicated negotiations, Britain has ever attempted.

“It would be a renewed expression of the close relationship between Britain and China, something that you have seen obviously develop over the past few years,” said May’s spokesman. “I would imagine that trade would form some part of the discussions that we have.”

China is keeping its cards close to its chest: China’s commerce ministry has stated that it is open towards a free trade agreement with Britain once it leaves the EU, however the country has said very little publicly.

May has already secured assurances from Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and other world powers, including U.S. President Donald Trump. Both countries are willing to boost trade ties.

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