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Warm reception for Xi's world vision

By Wang Mingjie in London | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2018-04-13 17:52

China leads way on global cooperation

President Xi Jinping’s speech at the Boao Forum for Asia was of great significance because it came at a time when many countries and people around the world had been talking about putting up barriers and threatening globalization with tariffs, an Oxford University scholar said.

Peter Frankopan, professor of global history at Oxford University, said “President Xi is clearly trying to show that China is not just an attractive place to do business, but recognizes that some reforms are necessary to widen the opportunities for those wishing to work together with China.”

Frankopan, author of the international best-seller The Silk Roads: A New History of the World, said many in the international community will welcome Xi’s commitment to reform.

“They also come at a crucial time when China needs to show its willingness to cooperate with others, rather than try to do so in isolation on its own,” he said.

He also noted the significance that these reforms will have beyond China. “All those who are part of existing or proposed projects will take note of President Xi’s speech and welcome his comments warmly,” he said.

David Hearne, research assistant at Birmingham City University, said Xi’s remarks pledged to improve China’s investment environment by focusing on greater “openness” to investment and particularly foreign investors.

“China’s own economic interests have evolved since its accession to the World Trade Organisation in 2001,” he said. “As such, it is unsurprising that a nation which recently overtook Japan to rank second in the world in terms of international patent applications should seek to strengthen intellectual property protections.”

China’s current account surplus has fallen from 9.9 percent of gross domestic product in 2007 to 1.8 percent of GDP in 2016, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, known as the OECD.

“This could be an indication that China’s economy is moving towards an era of higher consumption and hence living standards,” Hearne said.

He pointed out that “foreign direct investment into China as a percentage of GDP has fallen relatively steadily over the past decade and now sits below the OECD average,” Hearne said.

“In any event, greater Chinese openness, particularly if accompanied by increased consumption, could prove a boon for British exporters. The Belt and Road Initiative may also facilitate trade links between Europe, including the UK, and China,” he added.

Tom Harper, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Surrey, said “Xi's references to an attractive environment serves as a possible response to the fears of foreign firms towards China which are largely based on several themes.”

By doing so, Harper said China is seeking to improve its image as well as its capabilities, adding this also ties into China casting itself as the vanguard of free trade in the face of the rise of protectionism.

Xi's speech is in line with his current approach to the wider world. In the next couple of years, it is likely that China will seek to present itself as a defender of globalization in light of developments in the wider world and this speech seems to be in keeping with this.

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