At a time when many western nations are grappling with protectionism and calling into question long established trading agreements, China has welcomed world leaders to its capital city to herald the dawn of a series of new trading relationships.
The theme of the conference – the Belt and Road Initiative – positions China as the driver of economic development worldwide.
"More than 2,000 years ago, our ancestors, driven by a desire for friendship, opened the overland and maritime Silk Roads and thus started a great era of exchanges among civilizations," president Xi Jinping told delegates at the welcome banquet.
"We gather here to renew the Silk Road spirit and discuss the Belt and Road development for international cooperation. This is both a continuation of our shared legacy and a right choice for the future."
Much like the Olympic Games – of which Beijing is the first city ever to be hosting both the Winter and Summer editions – political and economic summits are a means of putting the host nation at the centre of the geopolitical landscape.
According to president Xi, China has now signed cooperation agreements with more than 68 countries and international organisations.
State owned banks are to invest another $40bn to boost infrastructure, industrial capacity and financing along the new silk road, which now extends beyond Africa and Eastern Europe to South America.
United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres told China Daily: “The Belt and Road Initiative has immense potential... It can promote effective access to markets and new opportunities… It is rooted in a shared vision for global development.”
Contrast this with the UK’s imminent separation from 27 nations of the European Union, or US president Donald Trump’s protectionist rhetoric. As one Beijinger told me today: “Oh, you are from Britain, leaving the EU… this must be bad for business!”
Business is certainly good in China. The reason for my visit was not actually to attend the Belt and Road Forum, but to speak with VIPs from the city about Host City Asia, which takes place in Beijing on 18 October 2017. The opportunities in this sector are as great for organisations from overseas as they are for China.
The sun shone throughout the Belt and Road Forum. While Host City cannot guarantee blue skies, even in the city’s favourite “golden month” of October, one thing is for certain – the sports and entertainment sectors here are booming rapidly and China is loving sharing the limelight.
Host City Asia takes place in Beijing on 18 October 2017. Beijing will host the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in 2019.