By Antonio Graceffo
At the Boao Forum last month, Chinese leader Xi Jinping blamed America for war and the global economy’s state, without actually naming the United States, while unveiling the “Global Security Initiative.” This is another vague plan for Beijing’s global expansion.
The Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) is an annual Chinese-led forum of 28 countries modeled on the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland. The BFA is named after Bo’ao, a town in China’s Hainan Province, where it has permanent residence despite its headquarters operating in Beijing.
This year’s Boao Forum, which ran from April 20 to April 22, was titled “The World in COVID-19 and Beyond: Working Together for Global Development and Shared Future.”
Xi talked about cooperation, integration, trade, and economics in his opening speech at the forum. This type of language is a veiled attack on the United States, which the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) portrays as isolationist and protectionist even though Chinese tariffs on U.S. imports are higher than U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports. Furthermore, China has virtually unrestricted investment and market access in the United States, whereas Chinese markets are heavily restricted.
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a multilateral free-trade agreement that China strongly supported and the United States withdrew from, also convened this year, and many of the member countries were in attendance. This worked well for the CCP’s framing of the United States as a protectionist state despite the number of bilateral trade agreements America already has with RCEP members.
Along with blaming the United States for impeding world trade, the CCP criticizes the U.S. Federal Reserve (the Fed) and the European Central Bank for raising interest rates. In fact, one of the BFA sessions was called “Global Inflation, Interest Rate Hikes and Economic Stability.”
In March, the United States was facing 8.5 percent inflation while Europe was experiencing a record inflation rate of 7.5 percent. The European Central Bank and the U.S. Fed have been raising interest rates to combat this inflation. Meanwhile, China is expected to cut interest rates to compensate for the negative impact of continued COVID lockdowns in major cities and commercial centers.
Beijing has been critical of Washington for hiking rates, saying that the United States should consider how its actions impact developing countries. However, Beijing is noticing that as lockdowns persist, the likelihood of hitting its modest 5.5 percent growth target this year is declining. Furthermore, the U.S. rate increases will negatively impact China’s growth as investors will be lured away from China and into the United States.
In a move toward Chinese-led globalism, Xi said that the world should “embrace a global governance philosophy.” He went on to say that nations must “firmly safeguard the international system with the U.N. at its core and the international order underpinned by international law.”
Although the CCP talks of supporting the United Nations and international law, it refuses to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine or the coup in Burma (commonly known as Myanmar), which ousted duly-elected Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
Among other topics, Xi talked about global security and reforming “the world’s security governance system.” He used the phrase “territorial integrity,” which is a subtle reference to Taiwan, implying that the United States should not interfere if China invades the island nation.
Xi urged nations to “reject the Cold War mentality,” “group politics,” and “block confrontation.” This was a veiled reference to NATO, the Quad, the Five Eyes, and AUKUS multinational security organizations that were formed to protect democracies from the likes of Russia and China. He also mentioned the “legitimate security concerns” rhetoric that the CCP had previously used to justify the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
While there is nothing new about the CCP blaming the United States for most of the world’s ills, including those that China is guilty of, what was most noteworthy was the unveiling of the Global Security Initiative. Not much concrete detail was given, but Xi used “indivisible security.” Russian President Vladimir Putin used the exact words to justify his confrontation with Ukraine in a Feb. 2 phone call with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
In his opening speech at the Boao Forum, and statements later published in state-run media Xinhua, Foreign Minister Wang Yi provided greater detail about the security initiative. He said, “The initiative contributes Chinese wisdom to make up for the present peace deficit.”
Chinese state-run media Global Times interpreted Wang’s statement as, “China will never claim hegemony, seek expansion or spheres of influence, nor engage in an arms race.” However, the CCP has done and is doing all of those things. Global Times subtly accused the United States of undermining the global security order by seeking hegemony in the name of democracy.
One of the six component areas of the Global Security Initiative is “stay committed to taking the legitimate security concerns of all countries seriously, and uphold the principle of indivisible security.” Once again, the key words “legitimate security concerns” and “indivisible security” were present.
Although it is unclear exactly what form this security initiative will take, it seems clear that it seeks to legitimize the Russian invasion of Ukraine and support the CCP’s position to take Taiwan. Geopolitical scholars from Europe, India, Australia, and the United States agree that these are the greatest threats to global security.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of NTD Canada.