With the end of Soviet Union, the world community assumed the “lone superiority” of the United States would strengthen globalization, free trade, world peace and development. But with the ascendancy of US President Donald Trump, the country seems more interested in open confrontation and preserving protectionism. On the other hand, China does hard work to create an environment of globalization and free trade. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speech at the Boao Forum on Tuesday, reiterated China is ready to further open its economic sphere and engage in tangible cooperation with the world. With the Trump administration systematically deviating from liberal economic norms, it seems the country is recreating its identity. In his Boao speech, Xi said his second-term administration will enhance alignment with international economic and trading rules, increase transparency, strengthen property rights protections, uphold the rule of law, encourage competition and oppose monopoly. These statements proved whether the West is positive or negative on liberal economic doctrine, China is prepared to cooperate with the rest of the world and follow international norms. On the intellectual property rights issues raised by the US, Xi said China encourages normal technological exchanges and cooperation between Chinese and foreign enterprises, and protects lawful international property rights owned by foreign enterprises. He believes international property rights protection is a requirement of foreign enterprises, and even more so for Chinese ones.
Still some Western critics raise concerns about China’s trade surplus, blaming the country for what they see as an unbalanced trade equation. Xi clarified China does not seek a trade surplus, and has a genuine desire to increase imports and achieve greater balance of international payments under the current account. This year marks the 40th anniversary of reform and opening–up, initiated under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping, and also the 30th anniversary of the establishment of Hainan as a province and Special Economic Zone. Xi remembered the difficulties and challenges the leadership faced during this period, and said that with united and determined efforts, the Chinese people have added a glorious chapter to the development story of the nation. According to data from the Chinese government, over the past 40 years China’s GDP has averaged an annual growth rate of around 9.5 percent and its foreign trade has registered an annual growth of 14.5 percent. In between it is said more than 700 million Chinese people have been lifted out of poverty, accounting for more than 70 percent of global poverty reduction over the same period.
In his speech, Xi tried to assure the world community from “bringing in” to “going global”, from WTO accession to the Belt and Road Initiative, China has made significant contributions to mitigating financial crises. As China has contributed over 30 percent of global growth in recent years, Xi said the country has become a key anchor and driver for the world economy and a positive force in advancing the cause of global peace and development. Commentators from the developing world mentioned the optimistic view and constructive role China could play in strengthening globalization and free trade.
The Communist Party of China’s National Congress last October marked the beginning of socialism with Chinese characteristics in a new era. Emphasizing the spirit of the CPC National Congress, Xi said this new initiative marks a new chapter in China’s rejuvenation and its effort for shared prosperity with the rest of the world. Still some Western experts opined the rise of China will threaten the interests of the rest of world, particularly the West. Xi, indirectly addressing those concerned, said China will stick to the path of peaceful development, actively pursue global partnerships, firmly support multilateralism and take an active part in reforming the global governance system. Through these efforts, China will be able to build a new type of international relations and promote a community with a shared future for mankind.
Due to the ongoing tensions in international trade initiated by Trump’s administration, Xi’s speech has provided a means of enhancing cooperation on trade and many other fronts.
The author is a PhD Scholar at the Communication University of China and president of the Himalaya Dialogue and Leadership Foundation.