Japan's diplomacy document exposes 'opportunistic, double-dealing motives' in its China policy

US President Joe Biden (L) and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida arrive to speak at a joint press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, April 10, 2024. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)

In its latest foreign policy report, Japan is following the cliché of smears against China by playing up the so-called China threat and interfering in China's internal affairs, yet at the same time, it restored language that states it needs "strategic and mutually beneficial relations with China." Analysts said this exposes the country's opportunistic and double-dealing motives in its China policy.

In a joint statement in 2008, China and Japan agreed to promote a strategic relationship of mutual benefit in an all-round way. In November 2023, two heads of state reaffirmed the positioning of comprehensively advancing the strategic and mutually beneficial relations at their meeting in San Francisco. 

However, in recent years, Japan appears to have abandoned the consensus reached with China and intensified China-bashing language in its defense, diplomacy and other official documents.

According to Kyodo News on Tuesday, the 2024 Diplomatic Bluebook said Japan will promote a "mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests" with China, using wording last seen in the 2019 report, although still claimed its neighboring country poses "an unprecedented and the greatest strategic challenge."

The report mentions "serious concerns" over China's "attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo" and "a series of dangerous acts" in the South China Sea as well as the importance of accelerating trilateral collaboration among the US, Japan, and the Philippines to deal with them, Kyodo News reported.

In response, Lin Jian, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said at a Tuesday press briefing that China is firmly opposed to the Japanese document which has followed the cliché of smears and accusations against China, hyped the so-called China threat and interfered in China's internal affairs unreasonably.

We urge the Japanese side to correct its wrong actions, stop provoking and creating bloc confrontation, truly position the strategic and mutually beneficial relations with China as a guideline for the development of bilateral ties, and make unremitting efforts to build constructive and stable China-Japan relations that meet the requirements of the new era, Lin said.

The two Asian neighbors remain at odds over various issues with Japan intensifying its efforts in joining the US to contain China.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has just returned from a high-profile trip to the US, where he tried to show diplomatic results by emphasizing "strengthening the US-Japan alliance." 

"During his visit to the US, the prime minister's face was filled with a smile never seen in Japan," Japan's Asahi Shimbun reported on Tuesday.

The report noted that it is undeniable that with the infinite deepening of the integration process between Japan and the US, Japan will undoubtedly be more firmly integrated into the strategy of the US to contain China. 

"Does Kishida's rarely seen smile in the US really herald a new level of cooperation between the US-Japan alliance?" questioned Da Zhigang, director of the Institute of Northeast Asian Studies at the Heilongjiang Provincial Academy of Social Sciences.

The expert noted that even as China and the US are in competition in multiple aspects, US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen and US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink have visited China in succession, therefore there has been significantly more high-level communication between China and the US than between China and Japan.

According to Da, the political elite and economic circles in Washington must have a consensus - the level of engagement of US-Japan relations cannot be compared with that of China-US relations. In this context, the first risk Japan faces is whether it can bear the consequences of blindly following the US' inducement to "de-risk" or "decouple" with China. The second risk is that Japan's participation in the US strategy to contain China will inevitably provoke geopolitical instability, which is not desirable for countries that desire peace. As an Asian country, it is uncertain whether Japan can cope with the tension with its neighbors. 

Omicron variant dominates COVID-19 cases in China in March, with JN.1 becoming main strain: China CDC

Throughout the month of March 2024, the Chinese mainland reported that the new cases of COVID-19 were all caused by the Omicron variant, with the main prevalent strain becoming the JN.1 series variant. This variant encompasses 89 evolutionary branches, with the top three strains being JN.1, JN.1.4, and JN.1.1.

During the same period, 588 new severe cases and 26 deaths were reported across the mainland, with one death attributed to respiratory failure caused by COVID-19 infection and 25 deaths due to underlying health conditions combined with COVID-19 infection.

The daily number of patients seeking treatment at fever clinics fluctuated at around 160,000 throughout March, peaking at 188,000 on March 12 before gradually decreasing to a low of 134,000 on March 30.

From the 10th week (March 4-10) to the 13th week (March 25-31) in 2024, the proportion of flu-like cases among emergency room visits at sentinel hospitals nationwide slightly decreased, with flu-like cases accounting for 5.6 percent, 5.3 percent, 4.9 percent, and 4.9 percent of visits, respectively.

The positivity rate for flu-like cases testing positive for COVID-19 increased from 18.2 percent in the 10th week to 21.1 percent in the 11th week before declining to 15.9 percent in the 13th week.

AUKUS expansion an alarming move destabilizing region: experts

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 11: Members of the Sydney Anti-AUKUS Coalition (SAAC) participate in a protest in Sydney, Australia, Saturday, December 11, 2021. Members of the Sydney Anti-AUKUS Coalition (SAAC) are holding a protest in opposition to the AUKUS military agreement between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, the development of nuclear submarines and war on China. Steven Saphore / Anadolu Agency (Photo by STEVEN SAPHORE / ANADOLU AGENCY / Anadolu Agency via AFP)

The defense ministers of the US, UK and Australia will reportedly begin to talk about broadening the AUKUS military alliance, with Japan emerging as the leading candidate for inclusion. However, analysts warned that such an alarming move marks the pact further turning into an "Asian NATO," raising concerns over heightened militarism in Japan and potential destabilization in the region.  

The expansion of AUKUS would be on "pillar two," which commits the members to jointly developing quantum computing, undersea, hypersonic, artificial intelligence and cyber technology, the Financial Times reported on Saturday. 

Japan is seen as the first candidate to join in the pact. According to a Reuters report on Sunday, US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida "will likely" discuss expanding AUKUS to include Japan during their summit in Washington on Wednesday.

In disregard of the concerns of regional countries and the international community over the risk of nuclear proliferation, the US, the UK and Australia have kept sending signals of AUKUS expansion, co-opting some countries to come on broad, and escalating arms race in the Asia-Pacific to the detriment of peace and stability in the region. China is gravely concerned about it, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at a press conference on Monday.  

"We oppose relevant countries cobbling together exclusive groupings and stoking bloc confrontation," the spokesperson said, pointing out that Japan in particular needs to earnestly draw lessons from history and stay prudent on military and security issues. 

The US, UK and Australia have long been mulling expanding the AUKUS alliance to include more countries. While the "first pillar" of the pact, involving the provision of nuclear-powered attack submarines to Australia, has raised concerns over nuclear proliferation, the US has been pushing to invite more countries to join in "pillar two" with the purpose of enhancing AUKUS' influence, serving the goal of implementing its Indo-Pacific strategy and maintaining its hegemony, Xiang Haoyu, a research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Monday.

Moreover, by encouraging more countries such as South Korea and the Philippines to join AUKUS and other US-led small cliques, the US aims to create various coalitions to besiege China. These efforts are made with a purpose of gaining an upper hand in the strategic competition with China, said Xiang. 

The expert noted that Japan has been the prime candidate for inclusion in AUKUS, given its longstanding alliance with the US, advanced technology and position in the global industrial chain. Additionally, it has played an active role in cooperating with the US on its Indo-Pacific strategy. 

Japan also has its own motivations for joining the pact, Xiang said, noting that Prime Minister Kishida's cabinet has been actively pursuing increased arms exports to spur domestic defense industry and enhance military capabilities.

Chen Hong, director of the Australian Studies Center of East China Normal University, said that in recent years, Japan has continuously attempted to breach the constraints of its pacifist constitution and views potential inclusion in AUKUS as an opportunity to further this agenda.

Facing a crisis of trust domestically, Kishida also expects to bolster public support by strengthening his defense and foreign policies, Chen told the Global Times, referring to Kishida's upcoming meetings with US President Biden and Philippine President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos in Washington as well as Japan's participation in joint military exercises with the US, Australia and the Philippines.

Chen warned that Japan's potential entry into AUKUS is concerning, as it could further foment militarism within Japan. Moreover, it could lay the groundwork for the expansion of the military alliance into an Asian equivalent of NATO, raising further alarm over regional security.

The establishment and subsequent expansion of AUKUS have raised significant concerns among regional countries, particularly regarding nuclear proliferation. Analysts said that despite attempts by member states to portray it in positive light, the military alliance is an exclusive clique rooted in Cold War mentality.

Together with other smaller coalitions led by the US, AUKUS could also exacerbate the risks of arms races and confrontations in the region, particularly when it interferes in heated issues such as those in the South China Sea or the Taiwan question, analysts warned.

Deadly attack on Iranian embassy compound in Syria condemned

Iran has blamed Israel for a deadly airstrike on Monday on its Damascus embassy compound in Syria, which killed 13 people including two Iranian generals, and vowed to retaliate. Monday's attack has been condemned for violating international law and sovereignty as it risked escalating regional tensions amid devastating humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Monday's attack marks the first Israeli strike targeted at an Iranian embassy compound, according to media reports. Analysts have said the incident is a significant escalation of tensions in the Middle East since the Israeli-Palestinian conflict renewed fighting in October 2023. They also warned of the increasing risk of more military conflicts in the Middle East and spillovers from the Gaza crisis.  

According to Iran's Foreign Ministry, airstrike has destroyed the Iranian consulate building in Damascus. The consulate building, which is located next to the Iranian Embassy, is always regarded as sovereign Iranian territory, the CNN reported.

Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a senior commander in the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and his deputy General Mohammad Hadi Hajriahimi were killed in Monday's attack. Zahedi is the most high-ranking Iranian target killed since then-US president Donald Trump ordered the assassination of IRGC Gen Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad in 2020, according to media reports. 

Iran and Syria accused Israel of authoring the attack. According to the New York Times, four Israeli officials acknowledged that Israel carried out the strike. 

Iran's Ambassador to Syria Hossein Akbari, who survived the attack, said Tehran's response would be "decisive." Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanani said that Iran "reserves the right to carry out a reaction and will decide on the type of response and punishment of the aggressor." He called the strike a "gross violation of international regulations, especially the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations," media reported.  

Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad denounced the attack, calling it a "heinous terrorist attack ... Killing a number of innocent people," according to media reports. 

Significant escalation

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin on Tuesday said China condemns the attack on the Iranian Embassy in Syria and opposes any act that would escalate the tensions. 

The security of diplomatic institutions should not be violated and Syria's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity must be respected, the Chinese spokesperson said.

Russian Foreign Ministry "strongly condemned" the Israel's attack targeting Iranian consulate building in a statement made public on Monday, terming the airstrike as "unacceptable."  

In addition, Jordan and Iraq, as well as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and Hezbollah in Lebanon, have been quick to slam Israel's airstrike which they regard as a grave violation of both international law and Syrian sovereignty, according to media reports. 

Experts said the attack, a significant escalation of tensions, was both a spillover of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a product of the longstanding structural tensions between Israel and Iran.

According to Liu Zhongmin, a professor at the Middle East Studies Institute of Shanghai International Studies University, as UN Security Council recently adopted a resolution urging for a ceasefire in Gaza for the month of Ramadan, Israel is facing increased pressure at home and abroad. And that would make Israel slow its operations in Gaza and ramp up operations in the spillover regions.

Israel sees Iran as the main backer of several forces fighting Israel in the spillover of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the Houthis in Yemen and Hezbollah in Lebanon, as well as Shiite forces in Syria and Iraq, said Liu. 

When Israel strikes Iran, its target is Hezbollah in Lebanon, Niu Xinchun, executive director of the China-Arab Research Institute of Ningxia University, told the Global Times on Tuesday.  

In the last two weeks, Israel has frequently targeted Hezbollah commanders and stroked Hezbollah weapons depots in Syria. Israel views Iran as Hezbollah's biggest backer, and believes their attacks on Iran will weaken Hezbollah, said Niu. 

According to Liu, Israel is trying to gain leverage from the aggravation of regional conflicts to bind America even more tightly to itself and force Washington to continue wielding influence in the Middle East, especially considering that the US recently abstained from voting on a UNSC resolution, a sign of waning support to Israel. 

A more complicated future

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said on Monday that the US did not "have confirmation either of the target or the responsible party," noting "we're always concerned about anything that would be escalatory or cause an increase in conflict in the region."

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian also accused the US as Israel's supporter and said it "must be held accountable."

According to US and Israeli officials, Israel notified the US "a few minutes" before the airstrike but didn't ask for a US green light. And a US official said the Israelis didn't tell the US that they were planning to bomb a building in the Iranian embassy compound, according to Axios. 

If the Israeli-Palestinian conflict spills over further and the tension in the whole region expands, it does not serve the interests of the US in the Middle East, when the Israeli-Palestinian conflict itself has already disrupted US' strategic contraction in the Middle East, Liu said. 

But Israeli's airstrike is undoubtedly related to the long-term strategy of the US over the years to shape the "Iranian threats" and motivate Israel and even Arab countries to confront Iran, Liu said. 

At a rally on Monday night, hundreds of people in Tehran gathered to condemn the Israeli attack, they waved flags of Iran and Palestine. They also burned Israeli and US flags, according to the AFP. However, it remains unknown how Iran will retaliate. 

According to Niu, there are three options for Iran's counterattack. 

"One is to support Hezbollah in Lebanon, militias in Iraq, and Houthi forces in Yemen to attack Israel. The other is to strike directly at Israeli targets outside its territory," said Niu, "Although Iran has the missile capability to strike directly at the Israeli mainland, this is not a highly probable scenario." 

Echoing Niu, Liu believes that counterattacks conducted by Iran's proxies would increase. However, direct military conflict between Iran and Israel is unlikely, Liu added.

Compared with the past, the conflict between Israel and Iran has increasingly become a combination of "spillover of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict" and "geopolitical contradiction," and has become more explicit and direct, Liu said. 

The conflict between Israel and Iran is likely to develop in parallel with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, further complicating the regional situation, Liu said. 

New deal of pandas in Australia still hangs in balance, but conversations with China are going well: Adelaide zoo director

There has been no new agreement and deal regarding whether the only pair of panda in Australia can extend their stay, although high-level talks between China and Australia bear good news, the director of the Adelaide zoo, which is the pandas’ current home, told the Global Times, adding that the conversations with China are “going really well.”

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said in late March that it was likely the two pandas on loan from China since 2009, and due to return in November this year, would have their stay in her home city of Adelaide extended. "We are on a good path to continued panda presence," she told reporters after the meeting with visiting top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi.

Speaking with Global Times on Tuesday, Dr Phil Ainsley, director of the zoo, said that they were not aware whether any conversations would occur about the giant pandas at the time when the top diplomats of the two countries met, and Wong’s message was very encouraging. The Adelaide zoo is now having conversations with the China Wildlife Conservation Association and other authorities, said Dr Ainsley, noting that currently exchanges are going really well.

“What I can say and I can be very clear about, is that the Adelaide zoo would absolutely love to see giant pandas remain in Australia and remain here at the Adelaide zoo. We would very much like to be able to continue having Fu Ni and Wang Wang here or new giant pandas,” said Dr Ainsley.

Fu Ni – who has won a silver medal for the most popular panda outside China – was named “lucky girl” in the hopes she would “fall in the net of love and have a baby.”But after nine attempts at breeding, including four attempts at artificial insemination, Fu Ni has not become pregnant and instead experienced multiple false pregnancies, which are virtually indistinguishable from normal pregnancies.

Dr Ainsley signaled that the Adelaide zoo has stopped their panda breeding program. “In part, the reason for that was for the welfare of Fu Ni, because we're very mindful of Fu Ni and Wang Wang having to return to China. If Fu Ni gets pregnant that would present some welfare challenges on her.”

Since Wang Wang and Fu Ni's arrival, the number of annual visitors to the zoo has increased from roughly half a million to over four and a half million. Many visitors flock to the zoo to see the giant pandas, media reported.

“We appreciate the fact that these national treasures of China say a lot about the friendship and relationships that exist between Australia and China, which are incredibly important,” Dr Ainsley noted.

Man carries 'The Art of War" sneaking the border, fearing of being bullied abroad

In a bizarre turn of events, a man in South China was caught attempting to sneak across the border with a copy of "The Art of War" in his possession out of fear of being bullied abroad. The man had fallen victim to a scam promising high-paying jobs overseas and was afraid of being taken advantage of once he arrived in a foreign country.

On March 14, the border patrol from Fangchenggang border management detachment in South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region uncovered an organized attempt to illegally cross the border, arresting two organizers and three individuals attempting to sneak out of the country.

At around 5 pm that day, police officers received information about individuals attempting to cross the border from Dongxing city. Following action by authorities, another organizer was apprehended at a bus station in Dongxing that day.

Upon questioning, it was revealed that the three individuals, including a man surnamed Luo, were from other provinces and had no legitimate employment. They had come across online job postings promising high salaries of up to 20,000 yuan ($2,766) per month and had been lured to Dongxing by the false promises of the recruiters.

Interestingly, during a search of Luo's belongings, police officers found a copy of "The Art of War" in his bag. Luo explained that he had seen the book's content in a short video and believed it could be useful in navigating potential disputes abroad. He had purchased the book to study and prepare himself for any unforeseen circumstances.

The two organizers have been criminally detained, while Luo and the other two individuals have been given administrative penalties for their illegal activity. 

The incident serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of falling for scams and the importance of being cautious when seeking opportunities abroad, observers said.

Boao Forum gathering seeks answers in face of global challenges

The Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) has touched off a wave of diplomatic frenzy that brings together leaders from across Asia and beyond to discuss both economic and geopolitical issues and seek answers facing the region.  

Themed on "Asia and the World: Common Challenges, Shared Responsibilities," the BFA Annual Conference calls on countries around the world to jointly address global challenges and shoulder the responsibility of promoting peace and prosperity together in the four-day meetings. 

The BFA itself will also see the presence of Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Nauru's President David W.R. Adeang, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit, and former Cambodian prime minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen, Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization Daren Tang, and Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECDE) Mathias Cormann, according to the forum organizer.

Zhao Leji, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, met with representatives of the board of directors, some advisory committees and strategic partner companies of the Boao Forum on Wednesday. 

According to Zhao, the theme of this year's annual meeting has responded to the common concerns of the international community. In today's world, where multiple challenges and crises are intertwined, consensus, solidarity and cooperation are all the more necessary. With its new development, China will provide more new opportunities for the world, Zhao said.  

Danilo Turk, former president of Slovenia, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the BFA is a vital platform for diverse perspectives to converge and chart a path forward, with diplomatic action playing a crucial role in addressing pressing global challenges. 

"These issues cannot be solved in the short term, but at least they are being addressed at the Boao Forum, which is a good starting point, especially considering China's importance as a key player in international relations," Turk told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

Opportunities like the BFA are crucial for diplomatic engagements with political leaders to discuss fundamental issues such as development, security, and stability that impact not only the region but also the entire world. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of reconnecting through in-person meetings to reestablish dialogue and collaboration, Gilles Carbonnier, vice president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

The Global Times reporters observed that as the forum's panels began on Tuesday, delegates from various parts of Asia and beyond flocked to the conference rooms very early in the morning, eager to participate in discussions. Each panel was filled to capacity, and there were always lines of people waiting to join in and listen.

Turk mentioned that in the Western world today, there is a harmful mentality and narrative that is harming regional relations. "This narrative involves the use of sanctions and countermeasures as if they were solutions to [existing] problems. It is widely known that sanctions do not achieve the intended results, but instead produce negative consequences," Turk said.  

Turk mentioned there is a focus on values and moral superiority in the West, which can lead to a sense of competition based on values, where one group believes they are superior to others because of their values. 

In addition, geopolitical tensions have influenced beyond to business investments across the globe. "The world today is more influenced by geopolitics than ever before, and the geopolitical influence will affect the flow of foreign direct investment," Charles Dallara from Partners Group said during a panel discussion. 

"We're looking forward to seeking some insights about how geopolitical factors will impact our consultancy," a representative from KPMG International Limited told the Global Times. 

China the stabilizer 

In the face of such an increasingly complex and tense global geopolitical situation, China has actively played a constructive role and is committed to maintaining world and regional peace, stability and development, Xu Bu, chairman of the Institute of Global Development and Security at Jiangsu University, who attended the panel on global geopolitical outlook at the Boao Forum, told the Global Times.

He noted that one of the main reasons for the more complex geopolitical situations is that unilateralism and protectionism are still prevalent in the global geopolitical arena. Some countries have been constantly engaging in sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction as well as building "small yard, high fence," which undermines the interests of other countries, he said.

In underscoring China's role as a constructive player in global affairs, Turk praised China's global security and development initiatives as key components of its foreign policy. He commended China for its efforts in mediating cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Iran, a crucial contribution to world peace. He also highlighted China's potential to help resolve conflicts such as the Russia-Ukraine conflict by proposing for a peace conference in the Middle East. 

Specifically, Xu noted that China has been actively promoting the building of a global community of shared future, a concept that advocates universal security and common prosperity. China firmly believes that only through the realization of a common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security and the resolute opposition to the idea that one country's security should be built on the insecurity of others can the world have a better future.

Turk also said China's economic growth is a peace stabilizer to Asia and the world. 

He said as China's high-quality development continue to progress, especially in artificial intelligence and digitalization, and this could benefit the world as a whole. China's success in developing artificial intelligence could lead to the creation of a global regulatory framework, with the country playing a key role in shaping international regulations for responsible artificial intelligence, Turk noted. 

Carbonnier told the Global Times that the critical importance of China as the world's second-largest economy cannot be overstated for world peace. China has been booming for many years, and the region has seen significant development and is now considered a powerhouse in terms of economic development, science, technology and diplomacy, he said. 

Alexei Overchuk, deputy prime minister of the Russian Federation, who gave remarks at the panel "Rise of the Global South," also highlighted the unity of the Global South to address challenges in face of the trend of anti-globalization, with fragmented trade, fragmented global economy and fragmented financial markets. 

Overchuk noted that, when it comes to the current fragmented issues, it requires us to strengthen cooperation and connections with neighboring countries, improve economic and trade relations and cooperation with neighboring countries. In the past decade, we have seen efforts in this direction. The establishment of economic alliances is a very important effort and mechanism, such as the BRICS mechanism, he said. 

As CDF concludes, attention turns to Boao Forum, as China holds back-to-back meetings with foreign leaders, businesses

High-level Chinese officials on Monday met with heads of global organizations and business leaders as the China Development Forum (CDF) concluded in Beijing, reaffirming China's pursuit of high-quality development and high-level opening-up to create more opportunities for the world. 

With the conclusion of the CDF, global attention is now turning to the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), which is set to kick off its annual conference in Boao, South China's Hainan Province on Tuesday, with regional leaders, government officials, business executives and scholars from Asia and around the world expected to attend the forum, which is looking to promote unity and cooperation to tackle regional and global challenges. 

Both the CDF and the BFA provide a crucial window for countries and businesses in Asia and beyond to view China's economic outlook, opening-up measures as well as its plan to promote peace and development in Asia and around the world. And the back-to-back forums further underscored China's commitment to expanding high-level opening-up and its contribution to peace and development in the region and around the world, in contrast to the US' irresponsible attempt to create division and tension, experts noted.

On Monday, Chinese Premier Li Qiang met separately with Ajay Banga, president of the World Bank, and Kristalina Georgieva, managing director the IMF in Beijing, according to China Media Group. In the meeting with Banga, Li said China will continuously create a world-class business environment to share development opportunities with all countries. During the meeting with Georgieva, Li said that China has the confidence and capability to maintain continuous and sound economic development.

Also on Monday, Chinese Vice Premier Ding Xuexiang met with Masatsugu Asakawa, president of the Asian Development Bank, according to the Xinhua News Agency. 

Meanwhile, Chinese Vice President Han Zheng met separately with Darren Woods, executive chair and CEO of US-based Exxon Mobil Corp and Pascal Soriot, CEO of UK-based AstraZeneca on Monday. 

The heads of the multinational lenders and the executives of the two companies attended the CDF, which drew over 100 foreign guests, including dozens of multinational executives. Just a day after the CDF, the BFA annual meeting is set to kick off, with high-level officials and business leaders attending.

Zhao Leji, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, will attend the opening plenary of the BFA Annual Conference 2024 and deliver a keynote speech on Thursday, Lin Jian, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, announced on Monday.

Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Nauru's President David W.R. Adeang, Sri Lankan's Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit, and Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, president of the Supreme Privy Council to His Majesty the King of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization Daren Tang, and Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Mathias Cormann will also attend the BFA Annual Conference, the forum announced on Monday. 

On Monday, the media center for the BFA officially opened to reporters from around the world, indicating that Boao has finished setting the stage for the annual conference. Known as "China's Davos," Boao is the permanent home of the BFA, which was first launched to promote integration in the Asia Pacific and has risen to become an influential global forum, similar to the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort town of Davos.

"As an important economic exchange platform for Asia and even the world, the forum, which is held after China's two sessions and the China Development Forum, carries special significance," Wang Peng, an associate researcher at the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Monday, "it is not only an important window for China to display its development concepts and achievements, but also an important platform for executives and officials from various countries to exchange ideas and discuss cooperation."

Under the theme "Asia and the World: Common Challenges, Shared Responsibility," this year's annual conference hopes to bolster unity and cooperation, rebuild confidence and trust, and collectively foster peace and development, according to Li Baodong, secretary general of the BFA. 

Specifically, the BFA Annual Conference, which is scheduled to run from Tuesday to Friday, will focus on major topics such as China's economic outlook, Asia's development and cooperation, and the global geopolitical and economic outlook, according to the forum's agenda.

Highlighting the BFA's focus on emerging issues, this year's meeting will also include discussions on topics such as the rise of artificial intelligence and new-energy vehicles. Global challenges such as trade fragmentation and climate change will also be among the topics of discussion. The rise of the Global South and how it should jointly promote an orderly and equitable multipolar world will also be among the hot topics in Boao. 

Global significance

"Asia is an important pillar of world development, and it is a region with a high degree of concentration of countries in the Global South. Given such a background, the BFA is not just about Asia but the world," Miao Lu, cofounder and secretary-general of the nongovernment think tank Center for China and Globalization, who is attending the BFA, told the Global Times on Monday, noting that the BFA has become a platform for Asia to speak out on the global stage, calling for shared responsibilities to tackle challenges.

The BFA annual meeting comes as both Asia and the world at large face tremendous risks and challenges. In Asia, though its economic development continues to be a bright spot in the world, the US is stepping up efforts to sow division and tension by seeking to pit regional countries against China as part of its ill-conceived attempt to contain it. Meanwhile, the world faces geopolitical conflicts, an economic downturn as well as a climate crisis.

"As for some actions of the United States in Asia that attempt to hinder the process of Asian economic integration, I think this is irresponsible behavior," Wang said, noting that economic integration is an inevitable trend in global economic development and an important way for all countries to achieve common prosperity. "Any attempt to undermine this process is short-sighted and selfish and will not only harm the interests of the relevant countries but will also have a negative impact on the entire global economy."

In contrast, China's approach for win-win cooperation is gaining support among regional and global leaders, business executives and scholars, as evidenced by the high-level, widespread participation in the CDF and the BFA. 

In addition to high-level government officials, scores of multinational business executives are expected to attend the meeting. Top executives who are expected to attend the BFA include Robert Goldstein, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands, Christian Bruch, president and CEO of Siemens Energy AG, Pascal Soriot, CEO of AstraZeneca, and Yumi Harada, chairman of the Japan General Chamber of Commerce and president of Joyful.

"I just attended the CDF, where global CEOs, mainly US CEOs, generally showed full confidence in China's economy," Wang Yiwei, a professor at the School of International Relations at Renmin University of China who will also attend the BFA annual meeting, told the Global Times on Monday. "The BFA annual meeting is a seamless continuation of the CDF."

At the CDF, Chinese officials offered reassurance to global businesses about China's solid economic fundamentals and its commitment to opening-up, a message that will also be conveyed to Asia and the world through the BFA, experts noted. 

"I think the world has begun to deviate from the theme of peace and development. We have to return to this theme," Miao said, noting that against such a backdrop, China has been persistently promoting peace and development. "This is the manifestation of our major-country diplomacy."