The 2014 APEC Beijing was an example where China had shared with the world her objectives to promote regional economic integration and strengthening comprehensive connectivity and infrastructure development. Another example was Xi's speech at the Korber Conference during his visit to Germany stressing China’s desire for peaceful development and pursuing a unique Chinese socialist system. Xi often made significant speeches and policy announcements during his foreign visits, Notable examples were the 'One Belt and One Route' vision revealed in Indonesia and the idea of creating an Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to facilitate much needed infrastructure development in Asia announced in Kazakhstan. These public speeches could be found in organic media, but their reach was obviously limited as compared to the mass media. I earnestly urge the mainstream media to modify its attitude in reporting, since the world prosperity and peace are highly dependent on our understanding and trust regarding China’s intentions.
The Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) is another major conference for leaders of Asian countries to discuss issues. BFA was proposed in 1998 by Fidel V. Ramos, former President of the Philippines, Bob Hawke, former PM of Australia and Morihiro Hosokawa, former PM of Japan, and was inaugurated on 2-27-2001 by 26 Asian countries’ leaders. Since 2002, Boao, Hainan, China has become the permanent host for the BFA, now a high-end platform for dialogs about Asian issues among leaders of national governments, industry and business organizations and academicians of countries in Asia and other continents. BFA takes a similar format to the World Economic Forum (WEF) held annually in Davos, Switzerland. BFA 2015 was held in late March in Boao where the President of China delivered a keynote speech. PM Li Keqiang spoke at Boao 2014 and Xi did in 2013, illustrating the importance of BFA to the Chinese government.
Xi’s Boao speech in 2015 is especially significant as he has spoken to the theme of BFA 2015: Asia’s New Future – Towards a Community of Common Destiny. I believe that it is worthwhile to summarize and comment on his speech as many US citizens are ignorant about China’s international initiatives. Xi’s opening remark relates to 2015 being the 70th anniversary of the ending of WW II, Chinese victory over Japanese aggression, and the founding of the United Nations and the 60th anniversary of the Bandung Conference and the formation of ASEAN community. 2015 is indeed an important year to be commemorated and reflected as a historic juncture to remember the past and look to the future. Xi then praises the Asian countries to have found their own path, outperforming each other in economy with strength reaching 1/3 of the world GDP. Over 70 years, Asian countries have gradually transcended their differences in ideology and social systems, becoming open and inclusive, with suspicion and estrangement giving way to growing trust, tolerance and appreciation. The interests of Asian countries have become intertwined, and a community of common destiny has increasingly taken shape. These statements may be more Xi’s wish than reality judging on the ‘China Threat’ drummed by Japan. However, he was right to say, “Through the Asian financial crisis, the international financial crisis, and the devastating natural disasters such as tsunami and earthquake, Asian countries demonstrated the power of unity in face of difficulties.”
Xi then emphasizes that Asia still faces numerous challenges, some old issues left over from history and new ones associated with current disputes, as well as various traditional and non-traditional security threats, presenting an uphill battle for Asian countries to grow the economy and eliminate poverty. From his words, “we have only one planet, and countries share one world; Asia and the world could not do without each other.” and “the world economy is still having risks of low growth, low inflation and low demand interwoven with risks of high unemployment, high debt and high level of bubbles.”, it is obvious Xi feels the challenge hence he urges, “China and Asian countries must see the whole picture, follow the global trend and jointly build a regional order, favorable to China, Asia and the world.”
Xi offers his vision to build a community of common destiny as follows:
i. All countries, no matter differences in size, strength or level of development, should respect one another and treat each other as equal members with equal rights to participate in regional and international affairs and respect each other's core interests, major concerns and other countries' growing strength, policies and visions. This righteous view and his words, “All of Asian countries must oppose interference in other countries' internal affairs and reject any destabilization activities in the region” do reveal China’s concerns..
ii. All countries need to seek win-win cooperation and common development. The old mindset of zero-sum game should give way to a new approach of win-win and all-win cooperation in economic and other fields. Xi made another wish point: Asian countries should actively promote reform of global economic governance to face the challenges. Xi mentions a number of on-going initiatives, building an even closer China-ASEAN community of common destiny, upgrading China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreements (FTA) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), advancing complementary and coordinated development between the AIIB and the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank. China wanted very much the U.S. support in the AIIB initiative, but the U.S. and Japan are the only two major countries still opposing it.
iii. Asian countries need to pursue common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security. I fully agree with Xi’s statement: “No country could have its own security ensured without the security of other countries or of the wider world.” I also agree that the Cold War mentality should truly be replaced with new security concepts to pave a secure Asia.
iv. Asian countries need to ensure inclusiveness and mutual learning among civilizations. China proposes a conference of dialogue among Asian civilizations to enhance interactions among Asian people and their rich cultural life.
Xi claims that the Chinese people are working in unison to deepen reform to realize the "two centenary" goals and the Chinese dream of great national rejuvenation with firm commitment to pursue the path of peaceful development. Xi pledges to protect the investment climate and the lawful rights and interests of investors as motivations and tools for sustaining China’s economic growth. Xi sincerely and repeatedly said before and in Boao, “what China needs most is a harmonious and stable domestic environment and a peaceful and tranquil international environment.” China has signed treaties of good-neighborliness, friendship and cooperation with eight of its neighbors, expecting to sign with all ASEAN countries. Xi’s explanation of the ‘One Belt and One Route’ vision, for meeting the development needs of China and countries along the route is truly a win-win strategy, If the U.S. had long understood the impact of ‘Belt and Route’, perhaps she would not oppose the AIIB and got egg on her face.
Xi’s speech has many points to be taken seriously by Americans, Japanese and Asian citizens. It is time for the China experts and the US media to deliberately re-evaluate the ‘China Threat’ hypothesis with more inputs from Chinese leaders’ speeches.