The Chinese government is investing tens of billions of dollars as part of an ambitious economic plan to rebuild ports, roads and rail networks.

China’s president Xi Jinping has pledged US$124 billion for the scheme, known as the Belt and Road Initiative adding that trade is the important engine of economic development.

The plan, which aims to expand trade links between Asia, Africa, Europe and beyond, was first unveiled in 2013.

Part of the massive funding boost, which is aimed at strengthening China’s links with its trading partners, includes 60 billion yuan in aid to developing countries and international institutions that form part of the belt and road project.

Mr Xi used his speech to assure western diplomats that the plan, described as the ‘new silk road’, was not simply an attempt to promote Chinese influence globally.

He said that in advancing the belt and road, they will not re-tread the old path of games between foes but instead create a new model of co-operation and mutual benefit.