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China pledges USD 20 billion in loans for Arab states

AFP  |  Beijing 

will provide Arab states with USD 20 billion in loans for economic development, told top Arab officials today, as seeks to build its influence in the and

The money will be earmarked for "projects that will produce good employment opportunities and positive social impact in Arab States that have reconstruction needs," said Xi, without providing further details.

It is part of a special Chinese programme for "economic reconstruction" and "industrial revitalisation," Xi told participants at a China-Arab States forum in of the People.

is also prepared to provide another one billion yuan to countries in the region to "build capacity for stability maintenance," Xi said, using a term commonly associated with policing and surveillance.

Since taking office, Xi has overseen a concerted effort to expand Chinese influence in the and Africa, including the construction of the country's first military base in state

has already provided vast sums to Arab countries, with alone owing some USD 1.3 billion, according to estimates from the US-based Research Initiative.

The financial largesse has raised concerns both at home and abroad over the vulnerability of poor nations to such massive debt.

Last year was forced to hand over majority control of its to China after being unable to repay its loans.

At the heart of Xi's vision is the "Belt and Road" initiative, a USD 1-trillion infrastructure programme billed as a modern revival of the ancient that once carried fabrics, spices and a wealth of other goods between Asia, Africa, the and

The Arab states' position at the centre of the ancient trade route makes them "natural partners" in China's new undertaking, he said, adding he expected the summit would end with an agreement on cooperation on the initiative.

"Chinese and Arab peoples, though far apart in distance, are as close as family," he said, describing a romanticised history of trade along the

The project, which has already financed ports, roads and railways across the globe, has spurred both interest and anxiety in many countries, with some seeing it as an example of Chinese expansionism.

"China welcomes opportunities to participate in the development of ports and the construction of in Arab states" as part of a "connecting Central with East and the with the Mediterranean," said Xi.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, July 10 2018. 11:10 IST