China says 'Silk Road' push will counter 'isolationism'

China's national flag is seen in front of cranes on a construction site at a commercial district in Beijing, China, January 26, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China’s top diplomat said the country’s ‘Silk Road’ push would help boost international cooperation at a time when the risk of “isolationism” is growing.

The ‘One Belt, One Road’ scheme, promoting infrastructure projects along historical land and sea trade routes, is helping “align China’s development with that of other countries”, State Councillor Yang Jiechi said in a commentary on Friday in the official China Daily newspaper.

Yang said the “shared benefits” of the Silk Road plan contrasted with the rise of “louder voices against globalization” and a shift toward “isolationism, outdated thinking and fragmented trade agreements”.

That comes as China has been playing up its role as a steadying force from global trade to climate change amid a turbulent start by new U.S. President Donald Trump, whose first days have been marked by media feuds and protests.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, as a keynote speaker at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, offered a vigorous defense of globalization and signaled Beijing’s desire to play a bigger role on the world stage.

Trump, meanwhile, has signed an order withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, threatened trade curbs on southern neighbor Mexico, aimed barbs at China and imposed a temporary travel ban on refugees.

China is hosting an international conference on its One Belt, One Road scheme in May, seen as a chance for Beijing to showcase its leadership of global infrastructure and investment.

Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Joseph Radford