Pulling Together Through Adversity, the Boao Message in 2021

Editor's Note: Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a speech via video link at the opening plenary of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference 2021 on Tuesday. He stressed the need for bolstering international cooperation. CGTN’s anchor attended the BFA at the scene. He thinks it’s true that global governance, trust, development and peace are all in a great deficit, especially during a pandemic. That's why the Boao Forum matters: It is a place that brings together minds to search for solutions. And the changes in the world first happen in the minds of people.

The Boao Forum is about Asia. The most populous and dynamic land in the world. 

The Asian economy shrank by 1.7 percent last year because of Covid. But that is the least bad in the world, better than Europe, America and Africa thanks to the stronger epidemic response. 

It reminds me of the characterizations about different societies: there are tight societies like East Asia, where people respect authorities and are more collectively minded, these people respond to Covid stronger and get back to normal sooner. And there are loose societies like North America and some parts of Europe, where people are resistant to compliance and more individualistic. The response to Covid is also loose and the recovery takes longer and has higher costs. 

But loose or tight, we are in this together. The loose and the tight make the same fabric of the global community. A stretch here will tear the cloth at the other end and add tensions to the whole. 

As President Xi said at the opening of the forum, diversity is the feature of the world. Decoupling is not only against economics, it helps no one. That is why joining hands is the better choice when our other hand is tied up by politics, values and interests. That is why 16 leaders of national governments and international institutions showed up at this year’s Boao Forum physically or virtually. The world needs calm minds reaching for justice not hot heads vying for hegemony.

The world is in change, and the biggest change arguably in the past half a century is the rise of China. 

No one can argue this is a success story. But success for who? China says it is for all. Yes, China is a big beneficiary of globalization. But a stronger China has also made the world a better place, providing cheap and abundant consumer goods for the developed world and a lifeline of funding, buying and building in the developing world. 

Post-Covid, humanity is on a path of recovery, the question is how to balance growth and the sharing of growth. They are actually the two sides of the same coin. Without sharing, the growth means nothing, without growth there is nothing to share. 

According to two reports by the BFA on Sunday, the Asian economy is expected to grow by 6.5 percent this year and be leading the global recovery. 

What remains to be tested is global governance. And facing an uncertain and unequal world, as President Xi said, global governance, trust, development and peace are all in great deficit. The Boao Forum is such a place to search for solutions. 

Despite pushbacks from the advanced economies to go alone, the world should know better: there is no way we can turn back the clock of globalization, but we can reinvent it and adapt to the change. That takes political will, good planning and dedicated efforts. 

That is why Boao Forum still matters: the changes of the world first happen in the minds of people.

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