China’s whirlwind economic diplomacy boosts confidence in global growth

The Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference concluded on Friday in Boao, South China’s Hainan Province, where government officials, business leaders and academics from Asia and around the world called for cooperation and openness to tackle regional and global challenges, while rejecting rising protectionism and geopolitical gamesmanship.

The conclusion of the BFA Annual Conference also capped China’s whirlwind week of spring economic diplomacy, including Chinese President Xi Jinping’s meeting with representatives from US business, strategic and academic communities. Through the high-level meetings, the BFA and the China Development Forum (CDF), China has sent an unmistakable signal of confidence in its development and openness toward regional and global cooperation, attendees said.

Also on vivid display at the back-to-back forums is China’s critical leadership role in promoting regional and global peace and development, as foreign leaders, business executives and academia commended its continuous economic development and commitment to high-standard opening-up.

Whirlwind economic diplomacy

After more than 40 panel discussions among participants from more than 60 countries and regions over the past four days, the BFA Annual Conference drew to a conclusion on Friday afternoon. Under the theme “Asia and the World: Common Challenges, Shared Responsibilities,” a wide range of topics was covered, including China’s economic outlook, Asia’s economic integration and the global geo-economic situation.

“The Annual Conference has resulted in important and positive outcomes, sounded a clarion calling for ‘solidarity and cooperation for common development’ representing Asia, and reached a series of important consensuses,” Li Baodong, general secretary of the BFA, said at a news conference on Friday afternoon, noting that there is a clearer understanding of the challenges facing the world today and recognition of the need for unity and cooperation. There was also consensus that China is the mainstay of the sustainable development of the world economy in the post-pandemic era, and will continue to be the largest contributor to global economic growth, Li said.

The successful conclusion of the BFA Annual Conference also marked the end of a period of busy economic diplomacy in China over the past week or so, shortly after the two sessions, where the country set a slew of social and economic development and other policy goals, including continuing to pursue high-quality development and high-standard opening-up.

The whirlwind economic diplomacy began with the CDF annual meeting in Beijing, which started on Sunday and ended on Monday. Just a day after the conclusion of the CDF, the BFA Annual Conference kicked off in Hainan. Throughout the week, Chinese officials held several back-to-back meetings with foreign leaders, global CEOs and academics.

On Wednesday, President Xi met with representatives from the US business, strategic and academic communities, including Evan Greenberg, chairman of the National Committee on US-China Relations, Cristiano Amon, president and CEO of Qualcomm, and Graham Allison, founding dean of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, in Beijing.

During the meeting, Xi said that China’s economy is sound and sustainable. He noted that China has come to where it is today after overcoming all kinds of difficulties and challenges. China did not collapse as predicted by the “China collapse theory,” nor will it peak as forecasted by the “China peak theory.”

China is planning and implementing a series of major steps for comprehensively deepening reform, and steadily fostering a market-oriented, law-based and world-class business environment. This will create broader development space for US and other foreign businesses, Xi said.

In Beijing, Xi also met several visiting world leaders, including Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte, Nauruan President David Adeang and Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit, stressing win-win cooperation. In the meeting with Rutte, Xi stressed that economic globalization may encounter headwinds, but the historical trend will not change. There is no way out for “decoupling and breaking the chain,” and opening-up and cooperation are the only choice.

China’s confidence in its economic prospects and commitment to deepening reforms and opening-up were on vivid display at the CDF, the BFA, and other meetings, including the Invest in China Summit 2024 in Beijing on Tuesday.

Speaking at the opening of the CDF on Sunday, Chinese Premier Li Qiang said that China’s economy has strong resilience, vast potential and sufficient vitality, and an increasingly open China will bring more opportunities for the world. At the opening plenary of the BFA on Thursday, Zhao Leji, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature, said that through high-quality development, Chinese modernization will inject strong impetus into the global economy.

Commenting on the BFA’s Annual Conference at a regular press briefing on Friday, Lin Jian, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, reiterated that as an important member of the Asian family, China will unwaveringly advance high-level opening-up and pursue high-quality development through new quality productive forces and proactively promote regional cooperation.

Boosting global confidence

Such a clear message of confidence and openness from Chinese leaders has also boosted confidence among foreign leaders, business executives and academics in China’s continued development and its critical role in helping the region and the world navigate through a tumultuous period, experts said.

Wang Yiwei, a professor at the School of International Relations at Renmin University of China, who attended both the CDF in Beijing and the BFA in Boao, said that at the CDF, China offered global business leaders a clear picture of its policy priorities set at the two sessions, and at the BFA, China’s confidence reverberated throughout Asia.

“With specific and concrete measures, the policy briefs were very convincing. And China’s confidence was on full display at the CDF,” Wang told the Global Times. “And the BFA Annual Conference basically translated China’s confidence into Asia’s confidence.”

In Boao, many participants also expressed confidence in China’s economic outlook and commended its contributions to peace and development in Asia and around the world.

Speaking at the opening plenary session on Thursday morning, Skerrit, the Dominican Prime Minister, said that China’s miraculous economic development has created tremendous opportunities for the world and China’s efforts to promote global cooperation have contributed greatly to mankind. “China has created a development miracle that has astonished the world. And at the same time, China has made great contributions to the cause of global development,” he said.

Regional and global business leaders also applauded the concrete steps China is taking to further open up its market for foreign businesses.

Dino Otranto, CEO of Australian iron ore giant Fortescue Metals Group, told the Global Times on the sidelines of the BFA Annual Conference that the company is encouraged by what it is seeing on the ground, as the ecosystem is starting to open up on top of already consolidated strong partnerships.

Otranto also expressed opposition to so-called economic decoupling and called on all parties to re-focus on stability and not get too caught up in current geopolitical tensions. “If you took China, the US or anything out of that sector, both will fail,” Otranto said.

At the BFA, while many commended China’s contributions to regional and global development, some also criticized the US for moving toward protectionism and de-globalization.

At a panel discussion at the BFA Annual Conference, former US Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said that the US should bear the blame for the de-globalization situation.

Following the panel discussion, Gutierrez told the Global Times that China has been a leader in EVs and technologies, and that will continue, and China has an impact on the world because it’s so big and so important.

The world would be less safe for everyone and less prosperous if the US and China don’t come together as friends. We need to put the politics aside, Gutierrez said.

(Global Times)

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