China's Xi promotes building initiative amid debt worries

China's Xi promotes building initiative amid debt worries
A cameraman films near a screen live broadcasting Chinese President Xi Jinping opening the Second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing Friday, April 26, 2019. The event celebrating the push for China-backed road, port and rail-building projects across the developing world, President Xi Jinping's signature foreign policy initiative, is one of Beijing's biggest of the year. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

BEIJING (AP) — President Xi Jinping has promised to promote high financial standards for China’s Belt and Road infrastructure-building initiative as Beijing tries to dispel complaints the multibillion-dollar project leaves developing countries with too much debt.

Xi avoided mentioning debt complaints in a speech Friday at the opening of a forum to celebrate his signature foreign initiative. But he said Beijing wants “open, green and clean cooperation” with “zero tolerance for corruption.”

Developing countries welcome the initiative to expand trade by building roads, ports and other facilities across Asia and Africa to Europe. But high costs have prompted complaints some are falling into a “debt trap.”

Chinese officials reject such complaints and issued guidelines this week for assessing debt risks to Belt and Road borrowers.