Commentary RESEARCH

Backbone of Multilateralism


2019-07-11 09:28

Lan Xinzhen
Beijing Review

The concept of Globalization 4.0 was first put forward at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland in January 2019, and was seen by the international community as a sign that globalization has entered a new era.

The theme of the Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2019, also known as the Summer Davos Forum, held in northeast China's coastal city Dalian, Liaoning Province, from July 1 to 3 and attended by more than 1,900 representatives from over 100 countries and regions, was Leadership 4.0: Succeeding in a New Era of Globalization.

The change from Globalization 4.0 to Leadership 4.0 not only reflected the changing international economic situation and pattern, but also the international community's steadfast commitment to safeguard multilateralism, their practical efforts in this regard, and their expectations for stronger multilateralism.

China has become the backbone of international efforts to safeguard multilateralism. While the world's largest economy, the United States, has resorted to unilateralism and is provoking global trade frictions by slapping higher tariffs on imports, China's determination and efforts to protect multilateralism have won praise worldwide.

China advocates openness and is implementing that at home. It is increasing imports, cutting tariffs and lowering the market access threshold to improve its business environment. All these measures have been a source of confidence for the global economy.

When President Xi Jinping reiterated China's stance and proposed measures for economic globalization at the recently concluded Group of 20 Summit in Japan's Osaka, this confidence was further boosted.

The diversity at this year's Annual Meeting of the New Champions showed the international community's interest in China's efforts to protect multilateralism and their support. Nearly 70 percent of the participants came from outside China, including a lot of U.S. companies in medical care, finance, science and technology and education. This was also proof that globalization is an irresistible international trend despite the surge of unilateralism practiced by the Donald Trump administration.

Today, there is an international division of labor in global social and economic development. The whole process of designing, manufacturing, including assembly, and sale of every single component of popular goods involves companies from various countries. This has built the foundation of current economic cooperation across the world, and is an important reason why we have to defend multilateralism.

If all countries become unilateral, then companies, be it the United States' Apple, or China's Huawei or the Republic of Korea's Samsung, would find it impossible to manufacture their products for global buyers and still keep them affordable. As a result, they would collapse and with the corporate collapse, every country's economy would take a hit.

As Premier Li Keqiang said at the WEF meeting, economic globalization is the objective demand for social productivity development. It is also the inevitable result of sci-tech progress, from which all countries benefit.

The new round of industrial revolution born of economic globalization is not only connecting the global industrial chain, innovation chain and value chain but is also promoting inclusive growth.

China is walking its talk. In the past four decades, it has become involved in global labor division and the global industrial, innovation and value chains. It is continuing to open up in all aspects and improve the quality of its open economy.

On June 30, China's National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Commerce released a revised catalogue for foreign investment. It includes an industry catalogue for encouraging foreign investment nationwide and a catalogue of advantageous industries for foreign investment in the central, western and northeastern regions. While the items on the negative list have decreased, those on the other list have increased. This greater openness is a stark contrast to countries that have cut themselves off from the rest of the world in the name of ensuring national security.

Human society is in an era of rapid informatization, where people find themselves closer to one another, instead of staying in isolation. This inevitable trend dictates that the authority of the rule-based multilateral trade mechanism with the World Trade Organization at the core be respected and protected.

It is heartening that a global poll conducted by the Davos Forum showed that the vast majority believe that international cooperation is very important. The key principles of the multilateral system are widely recognized and championed.

The memory of the 2008 financial crisis that rose from the U.S. is still fresh in our collective memory. During that turmoil, it was the close international cooperation that helped the global economy recover from the crisis. Today, we need the same cooperative spirit again in our fight against unilateralism and trade protectionism.



2019-07-11 05:25
Deeper reform can lead to sustainable development