German engineering firm Siemens has given a full-throated endorsement of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), announcing in a press release on Wednesday a host of deals aimed at deepening involvement with Chinese firms.
The statement came after Siemens held a summit focusing on the infrastructure initiative, attended by business and government representatives from more than 30 countries.
“As a long-term and well-established partner of China and its industries, we support the call of the Belt and Road Initiative and take another solid step forward on a larger scale and a wider scope,” Joe Kaeser, President and CEO of Siemens AG, was quoted as saying during the event.
“BRI has proven to be a wise and powerful force for accelerating infrastructure development already in many participating countries,” Kaeser said.
Siemens touted the company’s long-standing business ties in Belt and Road countries, and said the firm was among the first to partner with Chinese engineering and construction firms as part of China’s “go global” campaign.
While many Western firms have voiced enthusiasm for participating in Chinese President Xi Jinping’s flagship connectivity initiative, heads of state have been hesitant to endorse the plan.
Last February, German Chancellor Angela Merkel questioned whether China’s investment in Europe as part of the BRI was linked to political considerations.
“I have no objections to the fact that China wants to trade … and to invest,” Merkel said. “The question is … are the economic relations being linked with political questions?” she added, stressing that this would “not be in the spirit of free trade”.
Merkel’s wariness of China’s efforts has been echoed by her European and American counterparts, most of whom have declined to publicly endorse the BRI, citing Beijing’s political motivations as well as concerns regarding transparency.