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Date: 27 April 2021
Author: Łukasz Kobierski
Xi Jinping at Boao Forum for Asia 2021
The annual Boao Forum for Asia kicked off in the second half of April. In addition to prominent experts and government representatives, the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Xi Jinping delivered a speech. He followed the usual narrative of the Chinese Communist Party.
The Boao Forum for Asia is an annual event where representatives of government, business and academia from Asia as well as other continents are invited in order to share their opinion on region’s most pressing issues. Some described it as China’s version of the World Economic Forum in Davos. The 2020 meeting was cancelled due to pandemic. The event was held, as always, on the island province of Hainan, China.
On April 20, the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Xi Jinping delivered his online address entitled “Pulling Together Through Adversity and Toward a Shared Future for All.” At the beginning, Xi reminded that this is the 20th event of this kind and hypothesized that Asia “has turned into the most vibrant and promising region in the global economy.”
Xi reiterated that, for the sake of the whole world, all countries should cooperate with each other, uphold multilateralism as well as protect the international system centered on the United Nations (UN) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). He rejected unilateralism and imposition of rules set by one or several countries on others. He added that “what we need in today’s world is justice, not hegemony” and “attempts to ‘erect walls’ or ‘decouple’ run counter to the law of economics and market principles.” Moreover, the General Secretary invited interested parties to join the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which is open to all and aimed at mutual benefit, as well as the Silk Road e-commerce. According to World Bank data cited by Xi, the BRI projects could help lift 7.6 million people from extreme poverty and 32 million from moderate poverty worldwide.
Xi Jinping called for scientific and technological cooperation, especially in domains such as artificial intelligence, biomedicine and modern energy. Ecology is expected to be the main characteristic of the cooperation within the BRI framework. He added that solidarity and cooperation are needed in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, led by the World Health Organization (WHO), when it comes to climate change and responsibility towards developing countries. Elaborating further on the pandemic, the leader of the PRC stated that Chinese companies have already started joint production of vaccines in BRI participating countries, such as Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. Beijing wishes to make vaccines a global public good.
Xi Jinping announced that China will host the second Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations, when the pandemic ends, as part of the active efforts to promote dialogue among civilizations in Asia and beyond. The General Secretary did not fail to mention this year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CCP. As a result of the Party’s rule, the Chinese nation has achieved a great transformation, becoming stronger, and thus has made significant contributions to human civilization and progress.
It is fair to say that Xi Jinping’s address was meant to raise the profile of the event, which gathered about 2,000 high-level attendees in fields ranging from business to politics. The talk was nothing special in comparison to the previous speeches of the General Secretary. The usual slogans, i.e., openness to cooperation, aversion to domination, cooperation for mutual benefit, support in the fight against the pandemic, encouragement for activities within the BRI framework, etc., were reiterated. Boao Forum is yet another Chinese initiative aiming to strengthen trade relations and attract investment. The venue of the meeting, the island of Hainan, is not insignificant. In the long-term it is expected to become a financial hub and replace Hong Kong. This idea is a work in progress, yet the determination of the Chinese authorities is noticeable.
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