The keynote speech President Xi Jinping delivered via video link at the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2021 on Tuesday morning was intended for audiences both in Asia and beyond.
Praising the theme of the largest offline international event the country has held since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus as being "most opportune and relevant", the Chinese leader conveyed a clear message that the country is unswervingly pressing ahead with its international agenda. The urgency and pertinence of joining hands in a world undergoing profound changes has been a message that Xi has consistently stressed at such international gatherings.
As he pointed out, the challenges the world faces are not from the COVID-19 pandemic alone, but also from the growing governance, trust, development and peace deficits.
While the scale of the challenges confronting us may seem overwhelming and the differences between countries appear unbridgeable, Xi's message was there is hope of a better tomorrow so long as "wise and responsible choices" are made — solidarity to defeat the pandemic; improved global governance to ensure fairness rather than the enforcing of hegemony; openness and innovation to harvest the fruits of the new technological revolution; and respect for the diversity of cultures that makes the world so fascinating and drives the progress of human civilization.
It should not be difficult for countries to make the right choice and joint efforts to promote common security and development so long as they bear in mind the bigger picture and enhance their communication and coordination. This is what China has sought to do and encourage with its Belt and Road Initiative and its proposal that countries work together to build a community with a shared future for mankind.
The alternative, based on a false sense of self-importance, is a naive and parochial worldview that compounds the problems confronting the world and ultimately leads to confrontation and conflict.
None of the common challenges confronting the modern world, from the public health crisis to the climate issue, can be resolved by any single country, no matter how powerful it thinks it is or how strong its leadership believes it to be. Indeed, as Xi said, big countries should behave in a manner befitting their status and with a greater sense of responsibility.
The Chinese nation has achieved a great transformation from standing up to growing rich, and in becoming stronger, it has benefited the world. Asian countries have witnessed for themselves the extraordinary journey of China and, as the Boao Forum for Asia shows, the Asian countries have worked in unison with China to pursue both economic and social development. The dynamism of the region shows that although we live in an age rife with challenges, it is, as Xi said, also an age full of hope.
Now, it is the choices that are made in response to the challenges that will define the scope and potential of that hope.