China is honoring its commitment to boost reciprocity and mutual benefits with the world as it offers a slew of original ideas and fresh action for the four major diplomatic events it will host this year, according to senior diplomats and experts.
The insiders, who are also political advisers attending the ongoing two sessions — the annual meetings of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference — made the comments as the world’s second-largest economy marks the 40th anniversary of the start of the reform and opening-up policy.
This year, China will host the annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia, the Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, and the China International Import Expo.
The gatherings will be spread across the year and will cover all four seasons, and the Government Work Report delivered by Premier Li Keqiang on March 5 requested that all efforts be made to ensure they are successful.
Li Baodong, vice-foreign minister, said preparations for the events are progressing smoothly and the global community has responded warmly, with many countries consulting with and contacting Beijing.
“We take hosting these events very seriously, and they will be wonderful. We are full of confidence in this regard,” Li said.
New contributions will be made by the nation toward building a new kind of international relations as well as “the Community of Shared Future for Mankind”, he added, referring to one of President Xi Jinping’s signature concepts.
“I believe all four diplomatic events will achieve bumper harvests and great success.”
Li Ruiyu, ambassador to Italy, noted that this year marks not only the first opportunity for translating into reality the blueprint rolled out by the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in October, but also the fifth anniversary of the proposal of the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013.
“The transformation and upgrading of China’s economy has started a locomotive of growth opportunities for a number of countries, and China’s all-out opening-up signals the pathway to greater opportunities,” he said.
Many of China’s neighbors will be directly involved in, and will benefit from, the first two of the four events because the annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia will be held in April, while the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will be held in Qingdao in East China’s Shandong province in June.
Founded in 2001, the Boao Forum for Asia has become a high-end platform for dialogue about key Asian issues among political and business leaders, and senior think tanks.
Vice-Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou, a veteran diplomat in charge of Asian affairs, noted that this year’s forum “carries unprecedented significance”.
It will be the first major diplomatic event held in China since the 19th CPC National Congress, Kong said, adding that China will project a “new look” in diplomacy.
As China holds the rotating chair of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization this year, the summit will be the first of its kind convened after India and Pakistan officially joined the regional organization last year.
“The SCO, founded by China and Russia and the Central Asian member countries in 2001, has become a role model for seeking greater security through cooperation,” said Ji Zhiye, president of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.
The organization has built a system of mutual trust regarding regional security, and member states have jointly cracked down on separatists, extremists and terrorists, as well as championing regional peace and stability, Ji said.
Leaders from the African continent are expected to gather in Beijing in September for the third event — the Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.
The forum, initiated in 2000, has become a major platform for dialogue between China and more than 50 African countries to promote cooperation and joint development.
It routinely convenes a ministerial-level gathering, and China and African nations have agreed to upgrade this year’s meeting to a leaders’ summit. The last time the forum convened a summit was in South Africa in 2015.
For his first overseas trip of the year, Wang Yi, foreign minister, visited Africa, traveling to Rwanda and other countries, and the forum’s summit was a major topic of conversation on each leg of the trip.
Qu Xing, ambassador to Belgium, noted that when China takes the chair of international meetings, it always works hard to ensure that new ideas can be found to deal with demanding issues facing the international community.
The forum is an important venue for catalyzing the pursuit of mutual development and greater win-win cooperation among China and African countries, Qu said.
In November, business and trade delegations from countries across the world will arrive in Shanghai to attend the China International Import Expo, the first of its kind to be held by a major country.
Many leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, have pledged to send delegates to participate in the event, which will run from Nov 5 to 10.
Zhang Ming, ambassador and head of the Chinese Mission to the European Union, said the expo will be the first to focus on imports, and “it will be a major, groundbreaking move by China to actively open its market to the world”.
China will conduct more proactive import policies and try to achieve balanced development of its imports and exports, he added.
He noted that China has updated the ratio of tariffs, involving 187 types of consumer goods, on imports valued at $13.9 billion.
Behind the scenes
China has hosted a number of leaders’ gatherings focused on multilateral diplomacy, and has promoted cooperation with groupings such as the G20, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the BRICS countries and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
In the past five years, President Xi Jinping has put forward a number of original ideas related to international relations at international conferences and translated them into reality.
“By hosting diplomatic events at home, Beijing shows its resolution and ability to fly the banner of globalization and lead the process of multilateral cooperation,” said Ji, from the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.
In four decades of reform and opening-up, China’s GDP has risen to the second-highest on the globe as the country integrates with the world economically, and transitions from being “the world’s factory” to become “the world’s market”, he said.
With reference to developing countries, China is promoting the Belt and Road Initiative, helping to introduce new financing channels and looking to assist those countries in the development of the infrastructure facilities they most need, he added.
The four events China will host this year will effectively boost economic reciprocity between the country and the rest of the world, and will “serve as stabilizing factors that will strengthen the community economically with a shared future”, said Qu, ambassador to Belgium.
“Every party involved with the community shares both opportunities and risks, and any unilateral action should take the other parties into consideration because everyone’s interests are intertwined.”
In addition, China will project gravity and consistency as it hosts the events to honor and update the visions it has proposed, especially the Belt and Road Initiative, according to Qu.
Through these gatherings, China will tell the world that its proposals are not a piecemeal approach, and they will be updated constantly to effectively motivate and encourage other countries and international organizations to become part of the vision, he added.