China's state news agency on Thursday launched an information service on more than 60 Asian, African and European countries to support a multibillion dollar geopolitical drive by President Xi Jinping.
Under Xi, the world's second-largest economy is pushing to build infrastructure and trade links on the ancient Silk Road trade routes on land and sea, in what is dubbed a "One Belt, One Road" economic plan that would also increase regional heft.
The Xinhua Silk Road service will offer credit information and risk assessments on countries involved in the scheme, Xinhua's president Cai Mingzhao said at the launch ceremony, as well as databases, a think tank and consulting services.
It will "change the situation of incomplete information access and asymmetric information", Cai said.
No details on assessments were offered at the launch, although Xinhua reported separately that it released a "technology, infrastructure and investment environment" index for countries along the routes.
"Singapore, China, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates and Russia are the top-performing countries among those surveyed", Xinhua said. It did not identify any poor performers.
Xinhua's mission statement clearly states that it should "firmly grasp the correct political direction" as well as "offer vigorous public opinion support to the Chinese Dream for the great renovation of the Chinese nation" -- a catchphrase of Xi's.
As president of Xinhua, Cai carries ministerial-level rank. He was previously a reporter for the agency and the vice director of the propaganda department of the Chinese Communist Party central committee.
Since taking over China's top leadership positions -- Communist Party general secretary and state president -- in 2012-2013, Xi has placed particular emphasis on relations with Russia.
He has held no fewer than eight summit meetings with its president Vladimir Putin, most recently at a gathering in Russia of the BRICS emerging countries and members of a regional security group that includes China, Russia and four Central Asian nations.