Chinese President Xi Jinping promoted to build an open economy, speed up regional integration, and enhance interconnectivity at the just-concluded Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting in Manila, the Philippines.
What Xi called up at the APEC meeting aroused interest among scholars in Singapore, and they believed that China's inclusiveness promotes the Asia-Pacific integration.
Irene Chan, associate research fellow with S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies of Nanyang Technological University, said the reiteration of China's commitment to do its part in promoting economic integration within Asia-Pacific by making efforts domestically and externally in President Xi's speech gave her deep impression.
"Xi's suggestions are important follow-up to the APEC Connectivity Blueprint that was signed at the 22nd APEC Summit in Beijing in 2014, particularly the suggestion on persevering in the implementation of the development agenda." said Chan.
Gu Qingyang, associate professor of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy of National University of Singapore, said Xi's four-point proposal at the APEC meeting come down in one continuous line with the efforts to promote interconnectivity. Practices such as the Belt and Road Initiative, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will propel Asia-Pacific integration.
"I think the four-point proposal made by Chinese President Xi Jinping reflects the change of thinking. Nowadays, the Chinese government has coordinated domestic and overseas development, rather than only focus on domestic development. Prosperous and peaceful environment is crucial to China's development, Xi's proposal is closely related to the change of thinking, which is a kind of natural extension." Gu said.
It is known that the devil of economic integration is in the implementation of the myriad of policies at the regional and domestic levels. On this point, China has demonstrated its responsibility as the second largest economy in the world. President Xi stressed that "as China is a member of Asia-Pacific region, the development of China is rooted in the region, and will benefit the area."
Chan thought that the Belt and Road initiative brought up by China shows the country has recognized this major challenge and committed to resolve it.
"The Belt and Road Initiative has become an important part of regional economic integration as it dovetails not only with the APEC Connectivity Blueprint but also with the sub-regional Master Plan for ASEAN Connectivity. On top of that, the Belt portion of the Initiative provides the Asia-Pacific region possible links to other regions, particularly the largely untapped Central Asia region." said Chan.
The Belt and Road Initiative has been warmly received by the over 60 countries and international organizations that have registered their interest. When President Xi mentioned the initiative in his speech at APEC meeting, the audience burst into warm applause.
Besides the four points on propelling economic development of Asia-Pacific region, President Xi also introduced the 13th Five-Year Plan, elaborating on the concept of "innovation, coordination, green, open, and sharing". He said China will pay more attention to quality, efficiency, innovation, fair and justice, sustainable development as well as opening-up.
Gu held the view that China's open-up in a deeper degree will push Asia-Pacific integration, and the region will also benefit from China's economic development.
"China's economic growth has slowed down, but China is still a major force of global economic growth. Adopting more open economic initiatives, such as reducing the thresholds for foreign investment, will propel economic development of Asia-Pacific and integration of the region." said Gu.
In the context that China's economy has been undergoing the period of transformation, Gu noted that China has come up with the idea of green economy, and considered economic development from the perspective of supply, which dovetails China's current situation, and will speed up the country's economic growth. Gu said the momentum of China's economic development will propel growth in the region and thus promote Asia-Pacific integration.