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Li urges EU to join China-led Silk route project
October 18, 2014, 5:19 am

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang attends the closing ceremony of the tenth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Milan, Italy, Oct. 17, 2014 [Xinhua]

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang attends the closing ceremony of the tenth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Milan, Italy, Oct. 17, 2014 [Xinhua]

Premier Li Keqiang urged European participation in the “one belt, one road” — “Silk Road Economic Belt” and the “Maritime Silk Road” during a speech at the leaders’ round table talks at the ASEM summit in Milan on Friday. The Silk Road connected China and Europe from around 100 B.C.

The 10th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) concluded on Friday, with EU and Asian leaders pledging to promote economic cooperation through enhanced Asia-Europe connectivity.

The 4,000-mile Silk road linked ancient Chinese, Indian, Babylonian, Arabic, Greek and Roman civilizations.

A new map unveiled by Xinhua shows the Chinese plans for the Silk Road run through Central China to the northern Xinjiang from where it travels through Central Asia entering Kazakhstan and onto Iraq, Iran, Syria and then Istanbul in Turkey from where it runs across Europe cutting across Germany, Netherlands and Italy.

The maritime Silk Road begins in China’s Fujian and ends at Venice, Italy.

In a meeting on Friday with the president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso before the ASEM Summit, Li agreed to accelerate negotiations on an investment treaty which could rival a potential EU-US treaty.

The EU and China are two of the biggest traders in the world. According to EU estimates, China is now the EU’s second trading partner behind the United States and the EU is China’s biggest trading partner.

“Together we make up one-third of the global economy. We must actively explore the possibility of a free trade area and the goal of bringing bilateral trade to $1tn by 2020. We must work to make China and the EU the twin engines for global economic growth,” Chinese President Xi Jinping had said earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Beijing has made it clear that it does not support the European Union sanctions on Russia over the crisis in Ukraine.

During the Chinese Premier’s Moscow visit earlier this week, Russia’s sanctions-hit banks Vnesheconombank, VTB, Rosselkhozbank have attracted financing by Exim Bank of China. The European Union had earlier in July published a law to cut off financing for five major Russian banks over Moscow’s alleged support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Russia and China also signed several multi-billion dollar deals on Monday, including nuclear energy, finance, tourism, high-speed railways, apart from the agreement on gas deliveries to China via the eastern route.

Launched in 1996, the biennial ASEM summit has served as a venue for dialogue between Asian and European countries. The ASEM now includes 53 countries after the accession of Kazakhstan and Croatia during this summit.