Open and inclusive cooperation wins friends from afar
Note: The following is an edited translation of a commentary from the Chinese-language "Commentaries on International Affairs."
Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has just wrapped up his Asia-Pacific trip, will start his state visits to Spain, Argentina, Panama and Portugal on Tuesday (27th). The trips to the four countries will include a stop at the Group of 20 (G20) Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This will be the Chinese leader's last official overseas tour for 2018.
Officials unveil the first YXE international container train travelling between Yiwu and Madrid during an inaugural ceremony at a container terminal in Yiwu city, east China's Zhejiang Province, 18 November 2014. [Photo: VCG]
Year 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. It also marks the 10th anniversary of the 2008 international financial crisis. This year has seen international order being severely affected by anti-globalization movement, unilateralism, and protectionism. In this era of major changes, all countries need to calm down, look back at history, review lessons learnt, and carry out positive interactions so as to inject more certainty, stability and positive vibes for a better future. The intensive diplomatic visits by China's top leader indicate that as the largest developing country and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China remains strongly committed to contributing to the reform of the global governance system through its plan of "increasing openness and cooperation, promoting common development".
The countries that President Xi will visit - Spain, Argentina, Panama and Portugal – have all managed to find a way for win-win cooperation with China through participating in the "Belt and Road" Initiative.
In terms of Spain, statistics show that since the opening of the world's longest railway line, the Yiwu-Madrid railway line, in November 2014, Spain's exports to China's Yiwu alone increased to over 10 million US dollars in 2017 from less than 1.6 million dollars in 2014. This has helped diversify commodities on the market. The city of Yiwu is currently trading with 219 countries and regions, with trade accounting for 65% of its economy. Each year, more than 800,000 foreign buyers go to Yiwu for business. There are also more than 15,000 foreign buyers living in the city as permanent representatives for companies from over 100 countries and regions.
For Argentina, the recent "Double Eleven" shopping festival and the first China International Import Expo showed a growing Chinese demand for its Pampas beef. On one e-commerce platform, some 10,000 servings of imported Argentine veal were sold in just one minute during the first hour of the Double Eleven shopping festival. Argentina's ambassador to China, Diego Ramiro Duelar, has said more than half of his country's beef is exported to China. It is estimated that in the next few years, Argentina's meat export to China could hit 1 billion US dollars annually.
Panama, which established diplomatic relations with China last year, was the first Latin American country to sign an MOU on the "Belt and Road Initiative". Panama's Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Luis Miguel Hincapie has said that he hopes Panama, as a regional logistics hub in trade, can serve as a gateway and bridge linking China to Latin America.
As far as Portugal's concerned, the country hopes to become the gateway to Europe and the bridge connecting Africa and South America for the "Belt and Road" Initiative. The international market's confidence in Portugal was severely harmed when the European debt crisis broke out in 2011. Chinese companies, on the contrary, increased investment in the Southern European country. According to incomplete statistics, as of now, the total investment of Chinese enterprises and citizens in Portugal has exceeded 9 billion euros, and Portugal has become the fifth largest destination for Chinese investment in Europe. Portuguese Economy Minister Manuel Caldeira Cabral once attributed his country's emergence from economic difficulties to support from Chinese enterprises. While investing in Portugal, Chinese companies have also joined hands with their Portuguese counterparts to expand cooperation on third-country markets. For example, the China Three Gorges Corporation has cooperated with Portugal's major electricity operator Electricidade de Portugal and successfully entered Brazil's hydropower market, becoming Brazil's second largest privately-owned power generation company and the third largest power generator in the country within a short period.
Year 2018 has had its ups and downs. As we come closer to 2019, there is a more urgent need for all countries to adopt an open and inclusive attitude, seek cooperation, and draw a blueprint for common development. Ten years ago, when the international financial crisis broke out, leaders of the G20 met for the first time to discuss countermeasures to issues facing the global economy. And now the global economy is once again facing the test of uncertain development prospects. A research report by the Oxford Economics has predicted that the world GDP growth will slow from 3.1% this year to 2.8% in 2019. Leaders of the G20, whose combined GDP and international trade volume account for 85% and 75% of the world's total, need to eliminate disharmonious noise, enhance the "same boat spirit", reaffirm their confidence in multilateralism, deepen opening-up and cooperation, and consolidate consensus for shared development.
During his stay in Argentina, Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump are expected to hold their first meeting since the Sino-US trade friction ensued. China and the United States are the two largest economies in the world. Their strategic leadership over bilateral relations remains crucial to the rest of the world. Every move and every speech made by the two heads of state is of great concern to the whole world. Since they first established diplomatic ties 40 years ago, relations between China and the United States have never been a "zero-sum game". Both sides win when they get along well. Neither wins when they fight. It has always remained the case. There will be no exceptions this time around.