Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday called for an inclusive and integrated economy within the Asia-Pacific region, urging further opening-up in post-pandemic recovering era.
“Openness is the lifeline of Asia-Pacific cooperation,” Xi told the 28th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Beijing via video link, calling for efforts to build an Asia-Pacific community with a shared future featuring openness, inclusiveness, innovation-driven growth, connectivity and win-win cooperation.
“We need to practice true multilateralism, stick to dialogue rather than confrontation, inclusiveness rather than exclusion, and integration rather than decoupling,” he said.
Home to around 3 billion people, APEC’s member economies make up about half of the global trade and 60 percent of the world’s total GDP.
The Chinese president also expressed hope to see the early realization of a high-standard Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).
In the meeting, President Xi proposed taking advantage of the “digital economy” as the region’s new growth engine.
A 5G-based remote-control robot on display during the 2019 World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai, E China, August 29, 2019. /Xinhua
“We need to further develop the digital infrastructure, speed up digital transformation, strive to bridge the digital divide, and promote development of the digital economy in an all-round way,” he said.
The meeting was held during the challenging resurgence of COVID-19 due to an outbreak of the Delta variant. The COVID-19 has so far caused around 250 million cases and over five million deaths around the globe, data from the World Health Organization revealed. As lockdowns gradually became the new normal, businesses and consumers turned their eyes to online goods and services, thus accelerating the rise of e-commerce.
China, the fastest-growing digital economy last year, saw a scale nearing $5.4 trillion in 2020, according to a white paper on the global digital economy unveiled by the China Academy of Information and Communication Technology in August.
“China has put forward the initiative of Enhancing Implementation of APEC Connectivity Blueprint (2015-2025) in the Digital Era,” Xi said at the meeting. “We support stronger international cooperation on the digital economy, and have applied to join the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA).”
Economic rebound from COVID-19
“To defeat the pandemic and restore growth at an early date is a first-order priority for APEC economies at the moment,” the Chinese president pointed out, urging for a “science-based approach.”
While economic activities in the Asia-Pacific region have slowly rebounded and vaccination rates continue rising, the recovery from COVID-19 in different countries, regions, sectors and groups remains uneven.
Xi stressed the importance of the fair distribution of vaccines, adding China’s continuous commitment to assisting in the well-being of people in developing countries.
“China has announced that it will provide a total of two billion doses of vaccines to the world in the course of this year, and has so far provided over 1.7 billion doses, including donations to more than 110 countries,” he elaborated.
President Xi also noted the significance of sustainable development, hoping to seek a “harmonious coexistence between man and nature.”