CPEC is not directed at India, says China

There is also considerable skepticism over China's commitment to free trade.

The plan would, in theory, create a network of trade routes, rail lines, ports and highways, linking countries on four continents.

Touted as the biggest diplomatic event initiated by China, the inaugural Belt and Road Forum saw the attendance of some 1,500 government officials and experts from more than 130 countries.

A road to "peace and prosperity" could be reached if all involved made joint efforts, although the undertaking still had a long way to go, Xi told journalists in Beijing, at the end of the two-day summit.

On Sunday, Xi pledged US$124 billion for the new Silk Road which expands links between Asia, Africa, Europe and beyond.

"This part of history shows that civilization thrives with openness", he said, "and nations prosper through exchange".

"After this speech, I think the vision is much clearer now", Poland's Radek Pyffel, an Alternate Director of the China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, told Reuters, referring to Xi's opening speech.

Jörg Wuttke, outgoing president of the EU Chamber of Commerce in China, said last week that many foreign firms still face major regulatory barriers and limits to market access in China.

In an interview with Radio Sputnik, Russian political analyst and opinion journalist Leonid Krutakov suggested that the New Silk Road would be a win-win project.

"China's cooperation has mostly been government-to-government", notes Zhao. "China is now in the process of adjusting these policies". Some projects have imposed onerous financing costs, which leave the countries deep in debt. "It's still very general, it's the umbrella for many other projects and initiatives". "All countries should respect each other's sovereignty, dignity and territorial integrity, each other's development paths and social systems, and each other's core interests and major concerns".

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He added: "We will not resort to outdated geopolitical maneuvering".

While telling about the benefits of CPEC, he stressed dialogue and communication with nations outside the belt-road routes as necessary to dispel apprehensions.

The TPP, touted by the previous USA administration of President Barack Obama, has effectively been killed by Trump.

Zhao says so far, the strategy seems to be working. "The US can help advocate OBOR in key fundraising areas".

China's "new Silk Road" initiative aims to link the economies of Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa-but Beijing would really like the U.S. to get on board. It will also boost support for green and low-carbon development.

India is one notable holdout.

India skipped the summit as it voiced displeasure at the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a Belt and Road project aimed at linking northwestern China to the Arabian Sea.

"China has welcomed the participation of India in the Belt and Road project".

While some see Beijing's project as a geopolitical powerplay, Xi has insisted that the Belt and Road is open to everybody.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday participated in the Leaders' Roundtable sessions at the Belt and Road Forum, focusing on closer partnership for inter-connected development.

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