The world is seeing a tug-of-war between openness and protectionism, as countries like the United States build high trade "walls" of steep tariffs.
Where should we sail the ship of global trade? This year's Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference offered a solution as "opening-up" and "inclusiveness" have become key words repeatedly put forward by attendees.[Special coverage]
Asian nations, led by China, are seeking to boost global prosperity through building a free and inclusive trade order. Chinese President Xi Jinping voiced China's staunch support for free and inclusive trade, saying globalization is in line with the common interests of all countries.
CHINA CHAMPIONS FREE TRADE
China is a responsible nation, and a constructor of and contributor to the current international system, the president said.
"We will continue to safeguard the international order and rules, and support free trade and the liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment," Xi said at the four-day meeting, which kicked off Sunday in Boao, a resort in China's southern island province of Hainan.
"The international community should abandon a cold-war mentality and advocate working together to build a community with a shared future for mankind," he said.
In his speech, Xi announced that China will significantly broaden market access, create a more attractive investment environment, strengthen protection of intellectual property rights, and take the initiative to expand imports.
Stephen Groff, vice-president of the Asian Development Bank, said "the open economy and open trade are critical for a sustainable global economic growth."
He added that opening-up would increase competition "in whatever sector that is opening up, which ultimately results in more innovation and better products and better services that ultimately benefit consumers at the end of the day."
Sorao Sugiyama, attache at Japanese Consulate-General in China's southern city of Guangzhou, said that Japan's population is shrinking, so it needs to expand overseas markets, saying that as trade policies in some countries like the United States are turning protectionist, China's increasingly open markets are quite important to Japan.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up. Over the past four decades, China has grown into the world's second largest economy, the largest industrial producer, the largest trader of goods, and the holder of the largest foreign exchange reserves. China has also become a key stabilizer and locomotive for the world economy, contributing over 30 percent of global growth in recent years.
What China fully understands from its reform and opening-up is that the country's development cannot be achieved without the world, while the world also needs China for its development, Xi said Wednesday.
"I see China's reform and opening-up as a good sign. Good for China, for the region and also for the world," Sok Siphana, an advisor to the Cambodian government said.