Building bonds between communities with a value beyond dollars

China Plus Published: 2018-12-06 22:06:54
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Note: The following is an edited translation of a commentary from the Chinese-language "Commentaries on International Affairs."

China’s President Xi Jinping returned to Beijing on Thursday following state visits to Spain, Argentina, Panama, and Portugal. He also attended the G20 Leaders' Summit in Buenos Aires, and held a meeting with his American counterpart Donald Trump on trade.

China’s President Xi Jinping has returned to Beijing following state visits to Spain, Argentina, Panama, and Portugal. He also attended the G20 Leaders' Summit in Buenos Aires.

China’s President Xi Jinping has returned to Beijing following state visits to Spain, Argentina, Panama, and Portugal. He also attended the G20 Leaders' Summit in Buenos Aires.[Photo: VCG]

The G20 Leaders’ Summit was held on the 10th anniversary of the international financial crisis that swept around the world in 2008, wreaking havoc in markets everywhere. Out of this disaster emerged the G20 Leaders' Summit mechanism. It is no less important today, as the world economy stands at a crossroads with one path leading to greater openness and globalization, and the other heading down a dark path towards protectionism.

A consistent theme in President Xi’s speeches at the G20 and the numerous multilateral and bilateral meetings held during his state visits was his vigorous defense of multilateralism. He proposed that international trade adhere to the three principles of openness, tolerance, and a rule-based order. As he said in Portugal, although the world faces various challenges, China will always follow the principles of mutual respect, equal consultation, and peaceful development when working towards solutions to shared problems.

In statements issued by China and Spain, Argentina, Panama, and Portugal during President Xi’s visits, the Belt and Road Initiative was a byword for mutual cooperation. This is because, at its core, the Belt and Road framework is not exclusionist – its participants are free to engage in third-party markets along with other mechanisms for cooperation. For example, Spain and Portugal are important member states of the European Union. In the joint statements China issued with Spain, and also with Portugal, there was clear support for aligning the Belt and Road Initiative with the European Union’s development strategy, known as the Eurasian Interconnection Strategy. This alignment is a possibility because the Belt and Road Initiative is designed to be a platform that promotes global cooperation and connectivity, so the two development strategies are complementary, not in conflict.

The spirit of openness and mutual respect seen in the development of China’s economic and trade ties is also reflected in its approach to building stronger bonds between the Chinese community and communities in other parts of the world. During President Xi’s visit to Panama, the two countries issued a joint statement that emphasized the importance of exchanges in fields including culture, education, health, tourism, and journalism. One of the specific measures it listed was a move by China’s government to promote Panama as a tourism destination for China’s growing number of outbound tourists. As well as driving economic growth in Panama, it will also raise the level of engagement between the people of the two countries.

This spirit of engagement can also be found in the four-year cultural cooperation plan signed by China and Argentina. It includes plans to hold a year of cultural exchange, and both sides will work to streamline visa application procedures and to promote exchanges of talent. And in Spain, Argentina, and Panama, more and more people are exploring their interest in the Chinese language and Chinese culture by enrolling in courses at a local Confucius Institute. In Portugal alone, there are four Confucius Institutes, while in China, 17 universities have set up Portuguese language courses.

The last few weeks has shown that, despite differences in geography, language, and culture, communities around the world are keen to find ways to engage with China in a positive way. This enthusiasm is clearly matched by the Chinese people, who are visiting and doing business with people in all parts of the world. We can only hope that this spirit of openness, tolerance, and curiosity can continue as the world seeks to solve the major challenges that lie ahead.

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LU Xiankun Professor LU Xiankun is Managing Director of LEDECO Geneva and Associate Partner of IDEAS Centre Geneva. He is Emeritus Professor of China Institute for WTO Studies of the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) and Wuhan University (WHU) of China and visiting professor or senior research fellow of some other universities and think tanks in China and Europe. He also sits in management of some international business associations and companies, including as Senior Vice President of Shenzhen UEB Technology LTD., a leading e-commerce company of China. Previously, Mr. LU was senior official of Chinese Ministry of Commerce and senior diplomat posted in Europe, including in Geneva as Counsellor and Head of Division of the Permanent Mission of China to the WTO and in Brussels as Commercial Secretary of the Permanent Mission of China to the EU. Benjamin Cavender Benjamin Cavender is a Shanghai based consultant with more than 11 years of experience helping companies understand consumer behavior and develop go to market strategies for China. He is a frequent speaker on economic and consumer trends in China and is often featured on CNBC, Bloomberg, and Channel News Asia. Sara Hsu Sara Hsu is an associate professor from the State University of New York at New Paltz. She is a regular commentator on Chinese economy. Xu Qinduo Xu Qinduo is CRI's former chief correspondent to Washington DC, the United States. He works as the producer, host and commentator for TODAY, a flagship talk show on current affairs. Mr. Xu contributes regularly to English-language newspapers including Shenzhen Daily and Global Times as well as Chinese-language radio and TV services. Lin Shaowen A radio person, Mr. Lin Shaowen is strongly interested in international relations and Chinese politics. As China is quite often misunderstood in the rest of the world, he feels the need to better present the true picture of the country, the policies and meanings. So he talks a lot and is often seen debating. Then friends find a critical Lin Shaowen criticizing and criticized. George N. Tzogopoulos Dr George N. Tzogopoulos is an expert in media and politics/international relations as well as Chinese affairs. He is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre International de Européenne (CIFE) and Visiting Lecturer at the European Institute affiliated with it and is teaching international relations at the Department of Law of the Democritus University of Thrace. George is the author of two books: US Foreign Policy in the European Media: Framing the Rise and Fall of Neoconservatism (IB TAURIS) and The Greek Crisis in the Media: Stereotyping in the International Press (Ashgate) as well as the founder of, an institutional partner of CRI Greek. David Morris David Morris is the Pacific Islands Trade and Investment Commissioner in China, a former Australian diplomat and senior political adviser. Harvey Dzodin After a distinguished career in the US government and American media Dr. Harvey Dzodin is now a Beijing-based freelance columnist for several media outlets. While living in Beijing, he has published over 200 columns with an emphasis on arts, culture and the Belt & Road initiative. He is also a sought-after speaker and advisor in China and abroad. He currently serves as Nonresident Research Fellow of the think tank Center for China and Globalization and Senior Advisor of Tsinghua University National Image Research Center specializing in city branding. Dr. Dzodin was a political appointee of President Jimmy Carter and served as lawyer to a presidential commission. Upon the nomination of the White House and the US State Department he served at the United Nations Office in Vienna, Austria. He was Director and Vice President of the ABC Television in New York for more than two decades.