By William Jones Source: CGTN Published: 2019-11-9
Around 270 representatives of think tanks and media organizations from 99 countries gathered in Shanghai on November 6 and 7 for the second Hongqiao International Economic Forum on China's 70-year Development and the Building of a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind, to discuss the significance for the world of China's road to prosperity over the last 70 years and celebrate the success of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The forum was organized by the National Institute for Global Strategy of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and coincided with the second China International Import Expo (CIEE) in Shanghai.
It was obviously an important moment to have such an event. But there has also been the steady "drumbeat" in the Western media attempting to discredit the BRI and describe it as China's attempt to increase its "soft power" to prevent more countries from collaborating in the BRI or to pressure others to restrict the cooperation they have already committed to.
Much emphasis was placed on the continuity of the 70 years history, in contrast to Western descriptions which like to attribute China's success of today solely to the shift in policy with Deng Xiaoping.
In contrast to other developing countries that have "opened up" to Western investment, China's road to prosperity could not have happened without the directing hand of the CPC, a lesson that will no doubt be closely studied by developing countries today. As Guo Weiming so aptly put it in his remarks on November 7, "China's development shows that other countries can follow their development according to their own conditions."
Much attention was given to China's success in poverty alleviation. Former Croatian Prime Minister Stjepan Mesic praised China's role in poverty reduction. "I believe that President Xi's efforts have historic significance. The idea of the community for a shared future will change the landscape of the world. We believe the initiative will create a new path for the world."
Mesic said that China's leaders should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work. "China is the only country with a global vision for a better world," Mesic said.
And the theme of "a shared future" would continually reverberate throughout the two-day discussions, with speakers enthusiastically welcoming the notion of this concept as an alternative to the dangerous paths of zero-sum "geopolitics" pursued by some Western nations. But even among the Western countries, there has been a significant shift in favor of a "community of shared future."
During the forum, the world witnessed the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to China and the CIIE. Deals worth 15 billion U.S. dollars were signed between the two countries, including cooperation in the development of nuclear energy.
In addition, China issued four billion euros in sovereign bonds that were quickly subscribed by investors, substantially increasing the financial cooperation between the two nations. And among the hundreds of companies exhibiting at the Expo were many American companies, who were shunning the popular U.S. media hype about China as a rival to America, which should be isolated economically – particularly in the area of high technology.
Cooperation among the world's media professionals and think tanks was urged on the delegates by Huang Kunming, a member of the political bureau of the Communist Party's Central Committee and the head of its publicity department. "As a nexus of people from different countries, think tanks and media should promote world peace and win-win cooperation," he told the delegates.
The gathering of these scholars did result in a concrete commitment to work closely together to realize those ideas. In a consensus statement issued at the end of the event, the delegates expressed the hope that "think tanks and media in various countries will take this forum as an opportunity to expand the exchange platform, build a cooperation mechanism, carry out more extensive and in-depth dialogues."
After the discussions were over, representatives from the Asian think-tanks gathered on stage for the signing of a memorandum to solidify their cooperation in working to publicize China's real story, and countering much of the anti-China hype which is being fostered in the Western media. In addressing this signing, Peou Yang, Secretary-General of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said that this measure by Asian think-tanks "would set a good example for others to follow."
"While the developed nations set the rules, the Third World remains poor and underdeveloped," he said, adding "China's Belt and Road Initiative serves as a new model based on mutual benefit and mutual consultation."
In contrast to the U.S. model of "self- interest and control," Peou said, "the spirit of openness has been the governing rule of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and will remain so for years to come." Indeed, if such a commitment would become more general among think tanks and media organizations beyond Asia, it would well serve to counter much of the "fake news" which continues to flow in the Western media about China, and about its goals and intentions.
William Jones is the Washington Bureau Chief for Executive Intelligence Review and a non-resident senior fellow of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China.