China to meet 'challenges' to giant Belt and Road initiative

BEIJING, Nov 19 (Reuters) - China will strengthen risk prevention and control in its giant Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) infrastructure project linking the country to the rest of the world, state media quoted President Xi Jinping as saying on Friday.

The BRI presents opportunities, but the international environment has become increasingly complex, spurred by increased technical and industrial competition, environmental changes and the COVID-19 pandemic, Xi was quoted as saying.

China should "actively respond to challenges, utilise advantages and avoid disadvantages", state media quoted Xi as saying without elaborating.

Xi launched BRI in 2013, aiming to harness China's strengths in financing and infrastructure construction to "build a broad community of shared interests" linking China to Asia, Europe, Africa and Latin America.

The United States plans to invest in five to 10 large infrastructure projects around the world in January as part of a broader Group of Seven programme to counter Belt and Road, a senior U.S. official said last week. read more

The European Union is also planning a global infrastructure plan linking Europe to the world. read more

China plans to protect Chinese interests overseas, beef up security for Chinese firms and guarantee their demand for workers, materials and capital, Xi was quoted as saying.

The BRI has been praised for its potential to improve infrastructure and speed up economic development in many developing countries but criticised for potentially saddling many of them with unsustainable debt.

Reporting by Kevin Yao and Beijing newsroom; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Nick Macfie

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