Beijing– Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday said that the country has pledged an additional 100 billion yuan (about $14 billion) to the Silk Road Fund to increase financial support for the Belt and Road Initiative.

Xi made the announcement while delivering a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the two-day Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, the People’s Daily reported.

Designed to finance the Belt and Road Initiative, the Silk Road Fund was officially founded in December 2014 and jointly backed by China’s foreign exchange reserves, the China Investment Corp., the Export-Import Bank of China (China EximBank) and China Development Bank (CDB).

To provide more funding for Belt and Road cooperation, China will also encourage financial institutions to conduct overseas yuan fund business with an estimated amount of about 300 billion yuan, Xi said.

In addition, the CDB and the China EximBank will set up special lending schemes respectively worth 250 billion yuan equivalent and 130 billion yuan equivalent to support Belt and Road cooperation on infrastructure, industrial capacity and financing, he said.

China will also work with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the Brics New Development Bank, the World Bank and other multilateral development institutions to support Belt and Road related projects, Xi said.

The AIIB has provided $1.7 billion dollars of loans for nine projects in Belt and Road participating countries, reports the People’s Daily.

A multi-tiered Belt and Road financial cooperation network has taken an initial shape, Xi said in the speech.

China will also work with other parties concerned to jointly formulate guidelines for financing the Belt and Road related development projects, he said.

Proposed by Xi in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative is a grand plan to connect Asia with Europe and Africa along, and beyond, ancient trade routes by putting in place an unparalleled trade and infrastructure network.

So far, the initiative has won support from more than 100 countries and international organisations, of which over 40 have signed cooperation agreements with China.

A total of 29 foreign heads of state and government leaders attended the forum. Other delegates include officials, entrepreneurs, financiers and journalists from over 130 countries, and representatives of key international organisations. (IANS)