Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed a global audience at the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) forum on Wednesday, issuing a stern warning to Western nations against the idea of “decoupling” from China’s economy. This comes as China seeks to rejuvenate foreign investment amid a decline in recent years.
Xi opened the forum, celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the ambitious BRI project, which aims to connect Asia, Africa, and Europe through infrastructure and energy networks. He emphasized that China’s development should be seen as an asset, not a threat.
“We stand against unilateral sanctions, economic coercion, decoupling, and supply chain disruption,” Xi stated, countering Western efforts to impede China’s growth. “Viewing others’ development as a threat or taking economic interdependence as a risk will not make one’s own life better or speed up one’s development. China can only do well when the world is doing well… When China does well, the world will get even better.”
To attract more foreign investment, which recently hit a 25-year low, Xi pledged to ease investment restrictions and enhance trade ties. “We will comprehensively remove restrictions on foreign investment access in the manufacturing sector,” he announced, while also promising to open up cross-border trade and investment in services and expand market access for digital products.
Xi also outlined plans for reforms in state-owned companies, the digital economy, intellectual property rights, and government procurement. Simultaneously, China commits to investing billions of dollars in developing countries as part of the BRI initiative.
The forum was attended by leaders and representatives from over 130 countries, marking a decade since the launch of the BRI. Notable attendees included Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, and Pakistani Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar. Xi reaffirmed his strong partnership with Putin, hailing their “close and effective strategic coordination.”
Notably, many European leaders chose not to attend the event, reflecting Western skepticism toward the BRI. Western nations increasingly view the BRI as a means for China to extend its global influence and are exploring ways to diversify supply chains to reduce reliance on the world’s second-largest economy.
Looking ahead, Xi outlined the BRI’s focus on addressing issues related to artificial intelligence and climate change, with a specific emphasis on cooperation in green infrastructure, energy, and transportation. According to the Xinhua state news agency, Xi believes that the BRI represents the “right path forward” and a pivotal moment in history.