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Asia: The Boao Economic Forum

Boao Forum Venue-China

China is committed to continuing economic opening and implementing reforms to stimulate growth, Chinese Premier Li Qiang said Thursday, stressing that geopolitical tension will only slow down global development. The Chinese premier made these comments during the Boao Forum for Asia, an international business summit held annually on the tropical island of Hainan that is intended to be the Asian equivalent of the Davos Economic Forum. This year, the forum is taking place amid rising tensions between Beijing and Washington and its allies over a range of issues, from the war in Ukraine to technology exports and Taiwan. “Regardless of the changes taking place in the world, we will always adhere to reform and opening up,” Li said in a meeting on the sidelines of the summit with the prime ministers of Malaysia, Singapore, and Spain.

“We will introduce a series of new measures to expand market access and optimize the business environment. Peace is a precondition for development”, the Chinese Prime Minister pointed out in his first speech at an international conference since his appointment to this position at the beginning of March. After anti-COVID restrictions disrupted Chinese economic growth for three years in a row before they were lifted last December, Li Qiang assured on Thursday that there were signs of a rebound, saying that key economic indicators such as consumption and investment “continue to improve, and employment and prices are generally stable”. In a veiled allusion to the US, which is trying to block China’s access to advanced technologies such as microchips, Li also noted that Beijing opposes protectionism and trade decoupling. Sino-American relations experienced a particularly tense period last month after a Chinese balloon, accused of spying on military installations in the US, was shot down by American aircraft. The incident caused Secretary of State Antony Blinken to postpone a visit to China, which would have allowed to defuse sensitive topics such as the Chinese position on the war in Ukraine, technology competition, or the Taiwan issue. China and the US are engaged in a fierce battle for the production of semiconductors, with the Americans losing their dominant position to the Asian giant. Citing an alleged threat to its national security, Washington has tightened sanctions against Chinese semiconductor manufacturers in recent months to prevent them from acquiring American technology. The visits of Western parliamentarians, especially American ones, to Taiwan have also contributed to the tension in bilateral relations. On the other hand, on Wednesday, the Chinese prime minister met with the general director of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Gheorghieva, on the sidelines of the summit. Other foreign leaders are also present at the summit, such as Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Singaporean Lee Hsien Loong.

By Paul Bumman

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