Beijing and Washington exchanged verbal attacks on the Belt & Road (also known as “One Belt, One Road”) initiative. President Xi Jinping, defended the project after US Vice President Mike Pence expressed a serious criticism against the project.

At the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum in Papua New Guinea, Pence spoke about “authoritarianism and aggression” behind OBOR Initiative and said that Washington has a “better option” of economic co-operation than Beijing.

Mike Pence‘s main objection was in regard to what Washington described as “debt diplomacy” led by China. Pence stressed that China has a place in the US vision, but only if it chooses to respect the sovereignty of neighbouring countries, strives for free and fair   trade and respects the human rights and freedoms.

In response, Mr. Xi, defended the initiative and stressed its comprehensive character, allowing each country to participate, led solely by its own interests.

“It is not intended to serve as a hidden geopolitical agenda, it is not directed against anyone and does not preclude anyone. It is not a trap, as some people determine it,” Xi said.

The second OBOR forum will be held in April 2019 in China, it has become clear from his speech.

It is precisely the flexible nature of the initiative that is defined as its most important characteristic. Under OBOR there is not a common hierarchical structure, there are no protocols for membership, there are no pre-established standards that participants in the initiative have to comply with unreservedly.

Moreover, the initiative is not limited geographically, and there are already many cases where these investments are logical and work very well. OBOR can play an important role in large infrastructure projects such as roads, railways, energy or ports.

Recently, the Bulgarian and China Development Banks signed an agreement of EUR 1.5 billion, which provides for funding for the next 5 years under the “One Belt, One Road” initiative. This is the biggest project of the Chinese Development Bank’s financial initiative under the Interbank Association of China and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.