In push in Middle East, Syria joins China’s Belt and Road Initiative

In a bid to push the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in the Middle East, China signed a deal with Syria months after a phone call between President Xi Jinping and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

According to China’s Global Times, Syria’s admission into China’s BRI took place at a ceremony in Damascus as both sides signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

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The BRI is President Xi’s initiative which was kicked off in 2013 seeking to link land roads to build the trade network throughout the world. Nicaragua had also recently signed the BRI deal with China.

However, the controversial deal has been rejected by several countries. Chinese foreign minister  Wang Yi recently hit out against suggestions that China was driving African countries into a debt trap with the BRI.

“This is a narrative that has been created by those who do not want to see development in Africa. If there is any trap, it is about poverty and underdevelopment,” Wang asserted.

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China had earlier funded Kenya’s infrastructure project which included a railway network as part of Belt and Road Initiative. China is Africa’s biggest trading partner. Eritrea including several other African countries had earlier signed the Belt and Road Initiative.

China had also sanctioned a $6 billion railway line in Laos. The country’s economy has been hit due to the coronavirus pandemic as the country seeks to boost tourism and trade through a viable railway network.

(With inputs from Agencies)