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The inaugural day of the seventh edition of the Euro-Asian Economic Forum was dominated by talks on China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The Belt and Road Initiative is a mega project taken up by China through which it aims to revive the old 'Silk Route' connecting several countries in Asia and Europe.
Delegates from several countries in the region attended the inaugural session, including Pakistan. However, no Indian delegate was present. Although China has been insistent on India joining the BRI, India has been averse to the idea over concerns of growing prowess of its northern neighbour.
Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, Secretary-General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), V.I. Norov said: "The comprehensive interaction within the framework of the large-scale initiative of the President of China Xi Jinping, 'One Belt, One Road', is called upon to unite the efforts of the states of the continents in ensuring stable and sustainable development.
"I think the joint construction of multi-modal transport and logistics centers and the formation of a network of industrial clusters along the transport arteries of the SCO member states within the framework of the BRI will expand the economic opportunities of the region and give a significant impetus to other related areas of interaction," he added.
Other speakers, including from Moldova and Pakistan, also stressed the BRI and its benefits for the economic growth of the countries involved. China is also building the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor under the initiative.
Although China and the Pakistan government promise of prosperity once the corridor is completed, there are concerns in some quarters in Pakistan over the country's indebtedness towards China.
Fu Ying, the Director of Tsinghua University, Centre for Strategic and Security Studies said that China is a large consumer of energy and oil and gas reserves of Eurasian countries can be "helpful for both sides".
She also noted that China can help the countries on the industrial and mechanical side, as it has expertise on that front.
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