This year will be a big one for China's home-court diplomacy, with the upcoming Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) the first major diplomatic event the country will host in 2018.
Chinese President Xi Jinping will deliver a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the forum's annual conference, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.
Scheduled for April 8 to 11 in Boao, a coastal town in the south China island province of Hainan, the BFA 2018 conference has the theme featuring "An Open and Innovative Asia for a World of Greater Prosperity."
Wang applauded the "unique role" the forum has played since it was established 17 years ago in addressing global and regional issues, describing the forum as "a significant bridge linking China with the rest of the world" as well as "an international exchange platform with Asian features and global influence."
"The scale and influence of the forum have been expanding thanks to its unique role in building consensus among relevant parties, advancing regional cooperation and promoting development," he said.
Earlier this year, BFA secretary-general Zhou Wenzhong underlined the significance for Asia and the Pacific of development that is more open, better coordinated, more inclusive and better balanced, as the world economy clouds over with protectionism.
"Today, global economic growth remains vulnerable and its prospects uncertain," said Zhou.
Against such a background, the four-day event will include some 60 sessions under four key topics: an open Asia, globalization and the Belt and Road Initiative, innovation, and reform.
More than 2,000 guests will attend the event, according to Wang Yi.
Better Asia and world
Asia is a significant part of the world economic landscape. Deloitte has predicted that a more competitive Asia will emerge in 2018, and that Asian economies will enjoy another year that beats growth expectations.
The company attributed its confidence to improving domestic conditions in Asia, such as a better business environment, infrastructure initiatives, and recovery in global demand.
Describing the Belt and Road Initiative as "the largest infrastructure effort in the region," Deloitte believes it will boost productivity and efficiency in Asia by improving trade links with Europe.
"These projects will support near-term activity and benefit long-term productivity," said Deloitte in a report.
At the BFA, discussions on globalization and the Belt and Road Initiative will be a continuation of topics addressed at the 2017 conference and include the next phase of globalization, rethinking of overseas investment, and island cooperation along the Maritime Silk Road.
Participants will explore options Asian and emerging economies have to overtake developed countries.
This year's BFA meets a time when the term "sharp power" has been conjured up to invoke concern about the growing influence of China in the world.
Experts believe that the conference will show the world "it is time that the China threat theory was laid to rest."
Those who do not have bias or practice double standards will see China's development as an opportunity instead of a threat, Wang said earlier.
Statistics show that China's contribution to the global economic growth is bigger than that of the United States, Japan and the euro zone combined, and that China accounted for more than 70 percent of poverty reduction worldwide.
New action in "Xiplomacy"
This year's BFA is the first since China's commitment to building a community with a shared future for humanity was written into the Constitution.
The vision, together with China's proposal of building "a new type of international relations," represents the country's efforts to search for the answer to a simple question: What kind of future does humanity wish to create?
Wang Yi has assured the media that China will "take new action and display a new look" on the diplomatic front.
Four key global events will be hosted by China this year, and are expected to be attended by President Xi Jinping.
At the BFA in April, a key theme will be reform and opening-up, including reviewing successes and setting out a new vision.
In June, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will meet at the Qingdao summit, the first since the SCO expanded to include India and Pakistan as full members last year.
The summit will work on a five-year plan for implementation of the Treaty on Long-Term Good Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation, and host discussions on security, the economy, culture, and environmental cooperation.
In September, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Beijing will propose feasible ways to encourage more African countries to become involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.
Then in November, the first China International Import Expo will take place in Shanghai, where Wang said China would "reach out" to show its market potential.
"China welcomes all countries to participate in and share the new opportunities that come along with China's development," Wang said.
These events will exhibit the "major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics," which embodies championing peace, being non-threatening, standing up for the small and weak, and sharing development opportunities.
Wang credited Xi as being the chief architect of the major-country diplomacy concept and said the president had been personally involved in planning and conducting "brilliant" head-of-state diplomacy.
Over the past five years, Xi Jinping has visited 57 countries and received more than 110 foreign heads of state.
Through his travels and diplomatic meetings, Xi has helped deepen the world's understanding of a rising China, reshaped the Asian country's new role on the world stage and offered new ways forward in tackling the most pressing global problems.
Deeper reform and broader opening-up
This year marks the 40th anniversary of reform and opening-up, and the 30th anniversary of the founding of Hainan, the island province which has hosted the BFA since 2001.
China's smallest province but largest special economic zone, the tropical island is on the frontline of reform and opening-up. This year's conference will have two sessions exclusively dedicated to the subject. Topics such as capital market reform, monetary policies, tax cuts, rural revitalization, and city clusters will be discussed.
Since 1978, reform and opening-up has helped China maintain double-digit growth but the country is determined to pursue higher-quality development powered by greener and more sustainable engines such as consumption and services.
For Asia in general, broader and more in-depth regional cooperation and quicker economic integration are significant. According to Zhou, a roundtable on Asian cooperation will be held at the BFA conference.
The region and the world will undoubtedly share the opportunities as China will open its door wider to foreign investors and further liberalize and facilitate trade and investment.
The Chinese government has announced that it will open up its general manufacturing sector and expand foreign investment access to sectors like financial services, telecommunications, medical services, education, elderly care, and new-energy vehicles, according to the government work report.
"As more and more areas are liberalized to foreign investment, almost every industry can find its own growth points," said Yang Dacai, a professor of economics from Nanjing University.
As the Asia Pacific region has entered the Year of Dog in the Chinese zodiac, the Deloitte report hopes "for some traits of the dog to continue into administrations this new year -- communicative, serious, and responsible -- as Asia seeks to consolidate and expand on the good year in 2017."
(Xinhua News Agency April 3, 2018)