Chinese President Xi Jinping's signature One Belt, One Road initative is gaining steam, and world leaders are taking notice. Photo: Reuters, Samrang Pring

Leaders from around the world are eager to rub shoulders with Chinese officials at a summit in Beijing next month, as President Xi Jinping’s signature One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative gains momentum.

Most Asian leaders will be in attendance for the OBOR summit, along with heads of state from countries currently unrelated to the development initiative, reports Reuters.

International politics has, however, fueled a reluctance among developed Western countries to join the event, with Italy’s prime minister the only leader from a G7 country taking part.

But as the new US administration continues to insist on emphasizing an “America first” foreign policy direction, China is seizing the opportunity to gain more influence on the global stage.

“Everyone wants to be China’s friend now with Trump in office,” Reuters quoted a senior Asian diplomat in Beijing as saying.

Conceived and bankrolled by China, OBOR is a long-term strategic initiative to improve connectivity and enhance trade routes from Southeast Asia to Europe. The locations of new ports, railways and roads are inspired by the historic Silk Road.

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