After snatching power at home, Xi Jinping wants to woo foreigners at Asia’s Davos
Boao Forum for Asia will be Xi’s first major diplomatic event after NPC meeting
President Xi Jinping will speak at the Boao Forum for Asia on the tropical island of Hainan next month to deliver the message that a powerful China will be good for the region and the world, two sources said.
“Xi’s speech will be the highlight for Boao this year as he will show up as the most powerful Chinese leader for decades,” one of the sources, who declined to be named as the schedule has not been made public, told the South China Morning Post.
A spokesman for the forum declined to comment.
On the sidelines of the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress in Beijing, Foreign Minister Wang Yi told a press conference on Thursday that the annual forum in Hainan, which will start on April 8, will be one of four major diplomatic events this year.
The others were the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation leaders’ summit in Qingdao in June, the forum on China-Africa Cooperation in September, and the Shanghai Import Expo in December, he said.
The Boao Forum for Asia, held annually since 2002, has always served as a platform for China to call for regional cooperation and “free trade”, without heavy involvement from Western powers.
Xi made a speech at the event in 2015, when he promoted two of his brainchildren: the idea of a “shared destiny” for the world and the “Belt and Road Initiative”. They are both key components of Chinese diplomacy as Beijing seeks to increase its international influence and reduce that of the US in regional affairs.
In 2010, when he was vice-president, Xi delivered a speech at the forum calling for environmentally friendly development.
This year’s forum will be first major diplomatic event to be attended by Xi after the NPC meeting, which will endorse a constitutional amendment scrapping term limits on the presidency, paving the way for Xi to hold the office indefinitely.
China’s move towards one-man rule has triggered concerns among liberal democracies and international investors over the true direction of the world’s second biggest economy. Xi is expected to soothe some of those concerns in his Boao speech.
Additional reporting by Sidney Leng