Austria’s Kurz Goes to Belt and Road Forum But Won’t Sign Accord

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Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz will take part in the second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing next week, but he won’t follow Italy and sign a formal accord to cooperate on China’s giant infrastructure project to redraw the global trade map.

Austria supports the initiative in principle, especially when it comes to transport, according to the Chancellery. It won’t sign a memorandum of understanding because the initiative lacks transparency, it added. “Yes to the new silk road, but with fair traffic rules,” Kurz said in an interview with Kronen-Zeitung last week.

Austria’s Kurz Goes to Belt and Road Forum But Won’t Sign Accord

The EU is engaged in a delicate balancing act between seeking more investment opportunities with Asia’s most populous nation and striking a more cautious stance on security issues. The bloc released a report last month underscoring the need to recognize that China is an “economic competitor” and “systemic rival” that should no longer be considered a developing country.

The trip next week is Kurz’s second to China since he took office 16 months ago, a sign of the importance the Alpine country gives to Asian markets. He will meet President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang, as well as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd boss Jack Ma.

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