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G20: open up new horizons for development
   2016-09-06 10:16:01    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Liang Tao

By John Kirton

On September 2nd, Chinese President Xi Jinping opened the G20 Hangzhou summit with his keynote speech to the Business 20 (B20) in a most impressive and inspirational way. Speaking to the world's big business leaders he understandably began by highlighting their shared themes of innovation and openness but then quickly moved to green development putting the environment first for the first time in G20 history. He followed by singeing out the compelling global challenge of controlling climate change, reiterating China's commitments to control its own greenhouse gas emissions as its own economy continues to grow. He then, in the most striking and surprising passage, outlined how China was putting green development into action by shutting the coalmines and killing killer coal at home. This was the one component Xi identified as China's contribution to supply-side structural reform, implying that all other G20 leaders should follow on this path when they pursue their own structural reform as a key part of the innovative growth strategy that the Hangzhou summit would produce.

It was clear that these words came from Xi Jinping's own heart and soul. Looking the world's business leaders in the eye, he noted that he had long said, "green mountains and clear water are as good as gold and silver." In doing so, he signaled his wish to bring his vision of an ecological civilization for China to the world as a whole.

Similarly striking and surprising, was Xi's mention of peace and security towards the end of his speech. To the business audience he suggested that there can be no economic growth without peace and security. He highlighted the need for all to respect the values embedded in the charter of the United Nations. He spoke of China's leading contribution to United Nations peacekeeping and the causalities its own troops have suffered on their missions in Mali and South Sudan. He emphasized that differences between countries such as territorial issues, should be solved through dialogue. This was a clear symbol to Vladimir Putin and his actions in Ukraine and perhaps to those wondering how the disputes in the South China Sea and the Chinese-Indian border, would be addressed by the Chinese side.

The next day President Xi formally opened the official working sessions of the G20 Summit itself with another much shorter speech that showed that he was eager to get done to work with his fellow leaders on the list of economic issues they needed to address. He identified the core issues that his ministers stated from the start in December. It was a comprehensive list well tailored to the economic challenges confronting the world today. But, in order to preserve the special quality of private dialogue and dynamics amongst his fellow leaders he wisely did not prescribe or preempt them by announcing any of the specific directions or agreements they would produce.

That would be left to the communiqu¨¦ and accompanying documents they would release at the summit's end and to President Xi in his own concluding statement about what they really meant to him.

At the closing of the Hangzhou Summit, President Xi's leadership culminated in his innovative and inspirational remarks contained in the collective communiqu¨¦, and expressed in his own concluding statement. In the communiqu¨¦ he offered a vision: "We will strengthen the G20 growth agenda to catalyse new drivers of growth, open up new horizons for development, lead the way in transforming our economies in a more innovation and sustainable manner and better reflect the shared interests of both present and coming generations." In doing so he expressed the fundamental principle of ecologically sustainable development, introduced long ago in the Brundtland report of intergenerational equity. President Xi also had his colleagues' robustly adopt his initiative to combat corruption at home and abroad and at the same time ringingly endorse the shared values of human rights. The communiqu¨¦ read: "We will reinforce the G20's efforts to enhance cooperation against corruption, while fully respecting international law, human rights, and the rule of law." Finally, in his concluding report, Xi spoke of the need for tolerance but above all for the "solid implementation of outcomes," returning the theme he had emphasized at the outset of China's presidency in December 2015. The communiqu¨¦ ended in paragraph 47 with words that will ring and sing for all time: "Once we agree, we will deliver."

John Kirton, Co-director and founder, G20 Research Group

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