The Chinese “Belt and Road” initiative is an important project, which European states would be glad to join, according to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who stressed that cooperation should be based on reciprocity from Beijing.
“We, as Europeans, want to play an active part and that must lead to certain reciprocity and we are still wrangling over that a bit,” Merkel said, as quoted by Reuters.
The comment comes shortly after talks with French President Emmanuel Macron, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is currently paying a state visit to France.
The Chinese president came to France after his three-day visit to Italy. On Saturday, Rome and Beijing signed the memorandum of understanding on Italy’s joining of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The move had not been received well by European nations, particularly France and Germany. French President Emmanuel Macron had called for a more consolidated approach toward China among European allies, at the same time as Paris was signing multi-billion-euro contracts with Beijing.
The Belt and Road Initiative is expected to provide effective connectivity and boost China’s cooperation with more than 152 countries in Southeast and Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe, Latin America and Africa via various infrastructure projects, along the lines of the old Silk Road.
The project, proposed by Xi in 2013, promises to significantly boost global trade, cutting trading costs by half for the countries involved. China has heavily invested into the ambitious enterprise with a reported $900 billion having been spent on projects in partner countries. Most of the investment projects of the Belt and Road initiative have reportedly benefitted China’s state-owned corporations.