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 & Road Initiative that will act as a catalyst to spur global economic growth and development,” he said.
Munene 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 company, 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 R&D, 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 the 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.