Xi Jinping Stands Firm Against Economic 'Decoupling': Highlights from the Third Belt and Road Forum

Xi Jinping Stands Firm Against Economic 'Decoupling': Highlights from the Third Belt and Road Forum

On October 18, 2023, in the imposing setting of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping robustly defended his nation's economic policies and made a clarion call to Western states. Warning against the idea of "decoupling" from China’s flourishing economy, he positioned China's growth not as a looming threat, but as a global asset.

The occasion was the third Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) forum, which marked a decade since the ambitious program's inception. The BRI, hailed by Xi as the "project of the century," envisions a vast network of infrastructure and energy channels connecting Asia, Africa, and Europe.

In a tone that subtly rebuffed Western skepticism, Xi emphasized, “We stand against unilateral sanctions, economic coercion, decoupling, and supply chain disruption.” He continued to underscore the philosophy of mutual growth, stating, "China can only do well when the world is doing well… When China does well, the world will get even better.”

Amidst concerns about waning foreign investments – with one metric touching a 25-year nadir earlier this year – the President outlined plans to rejuvenate foreign interest. Promising reforms, Xi announced intentions to alleviate restrictions on foreign investments, particularly in manufacturing. He also emphasized opening up avenues for cross-border trade, facilitating digital product market access, and overhauling domains such as the digital economy, intellectual property rights, and government procurement.

Reaffirming China’s commitment to the BRI, Xi pledged continued hefty investments in developing countries' economies. This forum saw participation from over 130 countries, with notable attendees like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Pakistani Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar. The camaraderie between Xi and his "dear friend" Putin was palpable, with both leaders celebrating their nations' "close and effective strategic coordination."

While the forum attracted global representatives, European leaders, notably, were sparse in attendance, highlighting the West's growing apprehension regarding China's BRI. Many in the West perceive the initiative as Beijing's strategic move to expand its global influence.

Nevertheless, looking ahead, Xi announced BRI’s focus areas will include pressing global issues such as artificial intelligence and climate change. He emphasized cooperation in "green infrastructure, energy, and transportation." Closing his address, Xi portrayed the BRI as being on the "right path forward", signifying China's unwavering commitment to this global endeavor.