Zhang Jun, Director-General of the Department of International Economic Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, recently published a signed article entitled “China’s Economic Diplomacy Entered the New Era” on Foreign Affairs Journal, Spring 2017. The full text is as follows:
China’s Economic Diplomacy Entered the New Era
China’s economic diplomacy in 2017 was unveiled with President Xi Jinping’s important speech at the opening session of the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos. The speech captured broad interest of and resulted in in-depth studies by the global political, business, media and academic communities. It is generally agreed that President Xi’s reassuring and encouraging speech provided the answer to fundamental issues concerning the complex situation of world economy and economic globalization, charted the course for the confused international community and helped various parties reach consensus, demonstrating the responsibility and leadership of China as a major country.
This was an episode of President Xi’s diplomatic activities in recent years, and also an epitome of China’s economic diplomacy in the new era. In recent years, China successfully hosted the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Beijing and the G20 Summit in Hangzhou. President Xi’s economic diplomacy can be found on many important international occasions such as the UN Sustainable Development Summit, BRICS Summit, G20 Summit and APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, where he proposed China’s initiatives, solutions and ideas. China’s economic diplomacy now stands at a new historical starting point with more distinct features of the time.
- Guiding World Economy
Since the outbreak of international financial crisis in 2008, the international community has been actively exploring effective ways for recovery, yet has not seen much progress. The world economy faces increasing uncertainties and instability with slow growth, lackluster global trade and investment, rising trend of protectionism and de-globalization, accelerated restructuring of global industrial, supply and value chains and major changes in the geopolitical landscape. China now ranks second in total economic volume, first in manufacturing and trade in goods, and third in utilizing foreign investment and making outbound investment. For the world economy, China is not only an anchor, but also an engine and tractor. China is also seeking measures and ways to get the world economy out of trouble and actively sharing China’s solutions with various parties.
On many important occasions, based on China’s own development experience and ideas, President Xi took the pulse of the world economy and provided a holistic prescription with distinct Chinese features addressing both symptoms and root causes.
First, China has targeted the root causes. The Chinese people emphasize targeting the root causes to cure the disease. In his speech at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, President Xi pointed out three critical issues as the root causes of the problems facing the world economy, namely lack of robust driving forces for global growth, inadequate global economic governance and uneven global development. He also proposed a new way to lift the world economy out of trouble by calling for building a dynamic growth model, a model of open and win-win cooperation, a model of fair and equitable governance and a model of balanced and inclusive development. In the speech, President Xi also addressed the rising trend of de-globalization by giving an in-depth elaboration on the law and characteristics of economic globalization. He called on various sides to recognize that economic globalization is a double-edged sword and that we should guide economic globalization, rebalance the process of economic globalization and ensure that different countries and different groups of people all share the benefits of economic globalization. The speech has played an important role in helping countries build confidence in the future of economic globalization and work together to make it more inclusive.
Second, China is committed to innovation-driven growth. The slow growth of world economy is mainly due to the lack of internal driving forces, and the fundamental solution lies in breaking the bottleneck by releasing and developing productive forces through innovation. With China’s initiative, the 2016 G20 Hangzhou Summit discussed the topic of innovation for the first time and formulated a G20 Blueprint on Innovative Growth, calling on various parties to seize the opportunities brought by innovation, digital economy and new industrial revolution and to reach consensus on the priority areas, guiding principles and indicators of structural reform. These unprecedented moves in the G20 history have laid a solid foundation for unleashing the growth potential of world economy and ushering in a new round of world economic growth.
Third, China emphasizes openness and win-win cooperation. With deep integration of the world economy, a community of shared future is formed in which countries are interdependent with intertwined interests. Only by sharing opportunities and interests through opening-up and cooperation can we realize win-win outcomes. In his speech in Davos, President Xi emphasized that China will remain committed to growing an open global economy, practice and promote global cooperation based on openness and vigorously build a global network of free trade arrangements. Thanks to China’s efforts, the 2014 APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Beijing made the important decision to kick off the process of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) and endorse the Beijing Roadmap, marking a concrete step in the establishment of the FTAAP. In 2016, facing the setbacks in the global opening-up and cooperation and the Asia-Pacific regional cooperation, President Xi, at the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Lima, called on various parties to stick to the set agenda and translate consensus into concrete and effective actions to realize the FTAAP at an early date, showing China’s firm support to advance the open economy of the Asia-Pacific.