BEIJING – President William Ruto on Sunday arrived in Beijing, China, for the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation which will be held on October 17-18.
President Ruto said Kenya will prioritise working with like-minded countries to confront shared challenges and push for global prosperity.
“We are particularly keen on increasing the depth of our relations with China under the New Silk Road to upgrade our infrastructure,” he said on X upon arrival, adding that this will promote connectivity and facilitate a new era of trade and economic growth in Kenya.
The $900 billion New Silk Road, also known as Belt and Road Initiative is a global infrastructure development strategy adopted by the Chinese government in 2013 to invest in more than 150 countries and international organizations.
According to the Belt and Road Action Plan released in 2015, the initiative will encompass land routes (the “Belt”) and maritime routes (the “Road”) with the goal of improving trade relationships in the region primarily through infrastructure investments.
And according to Council on Foreign Relations, in the decade since, the project has expanded to Africa, Oceania, and Latin America, significantly broadening China’s economic and political influence.
Some analysts see the project as an unsettling extension of China’s rising power, and as the costs of many of the projects have skyrocketed, while opposition has grown in some countries.
President Ruto received a red carpet reception with a guard of honour in his first visit to China as President.
On Saturday, State House spokesperson Hussein Mohammed said the official trip will focus on the bilateral relations between Kenya and China and highlight Kenya’s active participation in the 3rd Belt and Road Initiative.
The President is expected to hold bilateral talks with President Xi Jinping and other world leaders in Beijing to discuss matters of mutual benefit and cooperation. During his visit, Ruto will deliver a keynote address headlined ‘Digital Economy as a New Source of Growth’ highlighting Kenya’s advancements in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and innovation.
The BRI Forum, whose theme is “High-quality Belt and Road Cooperation: Together for Common Development and Prosperity”, will see at least 130 countries and 30 international organizations participate, according to China’s Foreign Affairs ministry.