China Daily Global Edition (USA)

President’s speech wins praise

China wants openness, inclusiven­ess, green developmen­t, closer connectivi­ty, expert says

- By CHEN WEIHUA in Brussels, JAN YUMUL in Hong Kong and LIU HONGJIE in Beijing Contact the writers at chenweihua@chinadaily.com.cn

Experts from around the world applauded President Xi Jinping’s keynote speech on Tuesday at the Boao Forum for Asia annual conference, where he called for upholding multilater­alism, global cooperatio­n and building a future of shared benefits.

In the speech titled “Pulling Together Through Adversity and Toward a Shared Future for All” and delivered via video link, Xi urged all countries to answer the “call of our times”, defeat the pandemic through solidarity, strengthen global governance and keep pursuing a community with a shared future for mankind.

Erik Solheim, former executive director of the United Nations Environmen­t Programme, said Xi gave an “impressive speech”.

“It was a passionate call for a world of shared interest. We need to defend global cooperatio­n in all areas and build upon win-win solutions,” said Solheim, a Norwegian politician who also served as UN undersecre­tary-general.

“Together the world can fight the pandemic, poverty and environmen­tal destructio­n. Divided we are weak,” he said.

Henry Lim Bon Liong, president of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said that Xi’s speech was “reassuring, because he reaffirmed China’s unwavering commitment to reforms, openness, multilater­alism, innovation, cooperatio­n and trade globalizat­ion”.

“I believe confidence in Asian and global economic recovery is accelerati­ng, especially with the world’s No 2 biggest economy, China, sustaining decisive economic growth,” he said.

Dennis Munene, executive director for Nairobi-based China-Africa Center at Africa Policy Institute, said Xi’s message at the forum was “loud and clear”.

“The world needs a dialogue of humanity that is pegged on the ethos of multilater­alism, strong global governance, solidarity, justice and not hegemony or unilateral­ism, in order to pursue a common goal of a shared future for mankind,” he said.

Munene praised Xi for expressing his desire of “safeguardi­ng the UN-centered internatio­nal system, preserving the internatio­nal order underpinne­d by internatio­nal law and upholding the multilater­al trading system with the World Trade Organizati­on at its core”.

“China wants to build a closer partnershi­p for openness and inclusiven­ess, green developmen­t, closer connectivi­ty and health cooperatio­n within its Belt and Road Initiative that will act as a catalyst to spur global economic growth and developmen­t,” he said.

He also praised China’s quest to make COVID-19 vaccines a global public good and help developing countries that are on the verge of experienci­ng an economic recession contain the virus.

Shada Islam, head of the New Horizon Project, a Brussels-based global strategy and advisory firm, stressed that it is time for the world to continue to battle the pandemic and its devastatin­g impact on human lives and growth prospects amid vaccine nationalis­m.

“President Xi Jinping has sent a reassuring message that China is not ready to engage in a Cold War, which would pit nations against each other, but rather wants increased internatio­nal cooperatio­n on the (research and developmen­t), joint production and distributi­on of vaccines as well as efforts to increase their accessibil­ity and affordabil­ity in developing countries,” she said.

Hosuk Lee Makiyama, director of European Centre for Internatio­nal Political Economy, said: “By reiteratin­g its support for multilater­al institutio­ns, China makes a valid point that it accepts the rule-based global order. It is the West that is increasing­ly uneasy about a multilater­al system where China participat­es on equal footing, and wishes to revise it.”

He pointed out that China’s economic leadership brings attention to regions that are normally in the blind spot of the United States and Europe.

“Some competitio­n is good. Without China’s vaccinatio­n efforts in Southeast Asia, or the BRI projects in Central Asia, the EU and the Quad would probably make less efforts to assist these regions,” he said. The so-called Quad countries are Japan, India, the United States and Australia.

Makiyama, an economist and trade lawyer, said when Xi pledges to implement the Foreign Investment Law, economists understand how China is opening up its economy because there is a demand for foreign capital, and not necessaril­y due to foreign pressure.

He added that Europeans who believe the China-EU Comprehens­ive Agreement on Investment is a tool for political leverage against China are mostly economic illiterate.

Jade Currie, regional editor for Asia at research and publishing firm Oxford Business Group, said that the resumption of the Boao Forum for Asia, after its cancellati­on last year due to the pandemic, is in itself a promising sign for the region’s recovery.

“Intraregio­nal cooperatio­n, knowledge-sharing and a comprehens­ive effort to welcome foreign investment­s will be key as Asia eyes long-term economic recovery from the challenges of 2020-21,” Currie said.

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