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China's president was busy in 2014 building global cooperation

By MO JINGXI/ZHAO SHENGNAN (China Daily) Updated: 2014-12-25 07:58

China's president was busy in 2014 building global cooperation

Xi Jinping has found wide support for his vision to re-establish the Silk Road trade route and set up an Asian infrastructure bank

China has gathered a rich diplomatic harvest over the past year: maritime tension eased, the APEC meeting in Beijing was a renowned success and leaders traveled extensively with initiatives further linking China and the world.

The second-year of President Xi Jinping's presidency witnessed China shaping its environment with unprecedented diplomatic activity to match its status as the world's second-largest economy, and November especially saw the rewards being reaped, analysts said.

It was a common sight to see red-carpets rolled out in foreign capitals to greet Chinese leaders, but China's global role is not one of seeking domination but rather to boost economic growth, they added.

More of its own initiatives

It is remarkable that the new leadership launched so many initiatives in less than two years, and many of them have been realized, said Wang Yizhou, deputy head of the Peking University School of the International Studies.

Two years ago, China still had a diplomatic vocabulary where "no" was often mentioned. "No involvement, no alliance and no interference," said Wang.

"Hope" has replaced the negative word, as China talks more about what the country hopes for and how it would go about it, he said.

The most evident example is the plan to revive the Silk Road trading route, which has become a cornerstone of China's diplomacy and refers to networks connecting China with Europe through a host of Asian countries.

Xi for the first time proposed the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Initiatives when he visited Kazakhstan in September, 2013 and Indonesia the following month.

Just one year later, the mega plans came closer to reality after China and 20 other governments unveiled a Beijing-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in October, with an expected initial subscribed capital of $50 billion.

Less than one month later, Xi announced a $40 billion Silk Road fund to boost the construction of infrastructure linking markets across Asia.

Li Haidong, a professor of US studies at China Foreign Affairs University, said these proposals came amid a massive infrastructure boom in the developing world and met China's need to sustain growth, after steering the economy away from the investment-driven growth model by tapping its huge reserves.

The Silk Road initiatives are mutually beneficial as China has the experience and know-how in developing infrastructure and seeks to expand overseas markets, while other countries seek to build the capacity needed to keep up with increased flow of people and goods brought about by economic growth, Li said.

More than 50 countries along the ancient Silk Road have voiced their willingness to participate in the Silk Road initiatives. According to the Asian Development Bank, Asia needs as much as $730 billion annually for infrastructure investment before 2020.

Wang said that leaders such as Xi and Premier Li Keqiang, born after the foundation of New China in 1949, have fewer historical burdens but bigger global ambitions. Besides, the Asian economic powerhouse's growing international presence means they have to have a global perspective.

The International Monetary Fund said in October that China has overtaken the United States to become the world's largest economy based on purchasing power parity.

China's outbound investments will exceed $1.25 trillion over the next decade, while the country will import more than $10 trillion worth of goods and send more than 500 million tourists abroad over the next five years.

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