Published On: Mon, Apr 23rd, 2018

understanding global trends and Xi Jinping’s Speech at Boao Forum

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By Ehizuelen Michael Mitchell Omoruyi

Seldom has a speech by a foreign leader been awaited with such keenness globally. Speculation on the content of President Xi Jinping’s speech at the Boao Forum for Asia, similar to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which has been held annually since 2002 in the island province of Hainan –sometimes referred to as China’s Hawaii was widespread long before the event with media, diplomats, and businessmen, among others, wondering whether President Xi Jinping would use the forum to announce new economic reforms. There were representatives from 29 nations, about 2000 business leaders, senior officials, veteran experts, and international financial institutions. With a looming trade war with the United States as a backdrop, China was expected to make long-term changes to strengthen the nation’s economy and make it more resilient to external influences. Xi Jinping did not disappoint on this because it was among the two significant matter that he talked about. First, the forum was against the backdrop of a corrosive trade war between China and the United States. Second, the newly strengthened president was anticipated to announce the direction of China’s economic destiny. Xi Jinping’s softer tone speech was in line with the theme of the 2018 Boao forum which was “An Open and Innovative Asia for a World of Greater Prosperity”. There were significant concessions designed to reduce the temperature of the trade war and also keep worldwide business reasonably contented. Apart from the wide promises to open up further to the world, there was little in terms of significant economic reform.
The issue at the heart of the trade war stems from the contours of the ambitious “Made in China 2025” which was announced in 2015. This was a programme aimed at snowballing market innovation and boosting homegrown products. Implementation guidelines by the State Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, supported by 20 state councils delivered specific support to industry, to upsurge domestic share in Chinese suppliers of basic core component and materials, first to 40 percent and then to 70 percent in 2025. This is an ambitious plan based on the significant sections of Chinese manufacturing are nearly completely reliant on oversea content. The “Made in China 2025” programme started to worry the United States and European Union manufacturers who observed that state support would further hamper competitiveness in an already uneven playing field. In Xi Jinping’s softer tone speech, it is clear that even while China will retain the thrust of the plan, it is giving ground in some areas under United States pressure. President Xi’s softer tone speech is an overture to help resolve the standoff that has fueled fears concerning what the global economy may undergo in terms of protectionism. President Xi’s softer tone speech called for a commitment to openness, promoting free trade, investment liberalization and facilitation, supporting multilateral trading system, connectivity, mutual benefits, build an open global economy, and reinforce cooperation within the G20, APEC, and other multilateral frameworks. China growing confidence and its verbal support of global trade rules offers other nations a potentially appealing alternative to President Donald Trump’s rhetoric.
President Xi Jinping softer tone speech is a good tutorial as other nations face the heat on tariffs as well, there is much to learn from China in terms of the precision with which it is forging ahead to implement its strategy. Four decades ago, Deng Xiaoping surprised the world by ditching communism and implementing the “open door policy” which have added a glorious chapter to the development epic of China. In the face of the United States challenges, which threatened a devastating trade war, the world thought China will fight back and retaliate with $50 billion tariffs on the United States as promised by the Ministry of Commerce Beijing days ago. No. We were wrong! President Xi Jinping’s softer tone speech surprises everyone, he did what Deng Xiaoping started by opening China door much wider. President Xi Jinping reduces import tariffs on autos as well as on other products, widen market access, open up the insurance and financial sector. Xi Jinping’s softer tone speech also affirmed stronger protection of Intellectual Property Rights, with novel measures to address the matter.President Xi called for people around the world to work together towards a community with a shared future for mankind and make Asia and the world peaceful, tranquil, prosperous, open and beautiful. President Xi’s softer tone speech could create a very good platform to launch U.S.-China dialogue at the WTO to find a deal on intellectual property rights. This would be a victory for the global trading and a significant step away from the abyss of rising worldwide protectionism.
President Xi Jinping aims is to assure continued development and prosperity, so, if the partial opening of the economy brought prosperity to China, then it will be unwise to close the doors now to destroy China’s prosperity. The logic and correct strategy is to open the door much wider to permit more import and more services and to bring more prosperity to China. This is a win-win way of doing business, the Chinese business way of attaining and sharing a better future with its trading partners globally. This is the secret behind China’s success in the past four decades having a good leadership that will do the right thing at the right time. President Xi softer tone speech end by saying “ We will never threaten anyone, nor overthrow the existing international system” no matter how rich or powerful China becomes, we will not seek to build up spheres of influence –China will always be a builder for the world peace, and contributor to global development and a defender to international order”. This portrayed China as committed to opening its economy as Xi presented an alternative vision to President Donald Trump’s calls for tariffs restricting trade with China, urging “dialogue rather than confrontation. President Xi Jinping softer tone speech was a balancing act that is beneficial to all
Dr.Ehizuelen Michael Mitchell Omoruyi is the Executive Director, Centre for Nigerian Studies at the Institute of African Studies, Zhejiang Normal University, China

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