By Paul Davies, Michael Green and Andrew Westgate

Silhouette of Meeting Table in the Office

Leaders from around the world, including 20 heads of state, attended the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing on May 14-15. The attendees at the forum agreed on guiding principles for the initiative, and the Asian Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, the New Development Bank, the World Bank and China’s Finance Ministry also signed an agreement promoting the initiative.

The US was represented at the forum by Matthew Pottinger, the National Security Council’s senior director for Asia. A few days prior, on May 12, the US and China announced a series of trade measures to improve access to Chinese markets for American beef and natural gas exports, among other sectors. Mr. Pottinger’s attendance at the forum, a change from the original plan to send a Commerce Department official, was widely seen as a response to the trade dea