28 July 2020. Global Times: Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday reiterated China’s support for the global multilateral system and commitment to pursue development with the rest of the world in the spirit of openness and mutually-beneficial cooperation, in what Chinese analysts called an apparent rebuttal of a rising tide of unilateralism and anti-globalization amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Xi spoke at the opening ceremony of the annual meeting of the board of governors of the 103-member Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) via video link.
Coming at a critical time of rising risks and uncertainties posed by the pandemic and regional and global tensions, the two-day meeting is set to focus on cooperation in response to the pandemic and its economic fallout, observers said.
“Mutual support and cooperation in solidarity are the only way for mankind to overcome crises,” Xi said in his speech.
“China always supports and adheres to multilateralism, and pursues development with the rest of the world in the spirit of openness and mutually-beneficial cooperation,” the Chinese president said.
His speech was apparently aimed at addressing rising unilateralism and anti-globalization in certain parts of the world, most notably in the US, that have seriously undermined global cooperation at a time of urgent need due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese observers said.
“The Chinese leader’s attendance [at the meeting] shows China’s stance that all countries should cooperate through multilateral institutions like the AIIB… but instead of deepening cooperation, some countries are constantly withdrawing from international organizations, starting trouble and making very stupid mistakes,” Wang Jun, an expert at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges in Beijing, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
As the COVID-19 continues to ravage across the country, and as a presidential election heats up, the Trump administration has repeatedly blamed China and others for its failure to contain the COVID-19 epidemic, and has even announced a US withdrawal from the World Health Organization – adding to a growing list of international organizations and agreements it has abandoned.
In a series of geopolitical maneuvers aimed at China, the US administration has also sought to stir tensions in the South China Sea by pitting countries in Southeast Asia against China – including members of the AIIB, which is also a target of US attacks on China.
The Chinese president’s call for cooperation and solidarity on Tuesday could also be a rebuttal of the US’ confrontational approach, Han Feng, an expert on the Asia Pacific at the Beijing Foreign Studies University, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
“There are a lot of differences in this region, but the US approach to resort to [confrontation] is not in the interest of the region,” Han said.
Jin Liqun, who has been reelected as president of the AIIB for a second term on Tuesday, also warned of the challenges posed by the COVID-19, and called for further cooperation to help members battle the pandemic.
“Unless effective measures are taken to reverse this trend, we will suffer the loss of a generation. We will not allow such a disaster to befall our people and future generations,” Jin said, noting that the bank has approved nearly $6 billion to help 12 members respond to the public health crisis. AIIB’s total investment portfolio has reached nearly $20 billion since 2016, he said.
Xi, who first proposed the establishment of the AIIB in 2013, also proposed an increase in the bank’s global profile to promote development across the world.
“China will continue to work with other members to support the AIIB and make it a success, and contribute more to the global response to risks and challenges, and the pursuit of shared development,” Xi said.