With one war raging in Ukraine and another unfolding in the Middle East, Chinese leader Xi Jinping is promoting his signature foreign-policy project as a force for unity, cooperation and prosperity around the globe.
At a summit convened to celebrate the Belt and Road Initiative, a crucial building block in China’s rivalry with the West, the picture looked more fractured.
The prominence given to Russian President Vladimir Putin at the summit, and the near absence of Western representation among the roughly two-dozen world leaders who attended, underlined how geopolitical divisions have deepened since Xi first proposed Belt and Road a decade ago.
Fissures that worsened with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are becoming even more stark as the Mideast crisis unfolds. The war between Israel and Hamas has stretched American and European resources while relieving pressure on Russia and prompting China to align itself more closely with the Palestinian cause.
During a keynote speech Wednesday inside Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, Xi positioned China as a leader of a new world order and promised that his country’s rise would benefit any that wanted to participate.
Invited to speak directly after Xi, Putin praised what he said were the trillion-dollar infrastructure program’s efforts to build a “fairer, multipolar world and system of international relations,” according to a translation by Chinese state broadcaster CGTN.