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Spotlight: Xiplomacy gaining momentum as inspiration for Asia

BEIJING, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- As Chinese President Xi Jinping wraps up a three-nation Asia-Pacific tour Wednesday, his proposals on tackling global challenges and promoting win-win cooperation are expected to keep invigorating regional development.

In the latest round of his diplomatic endeavors, or Xiplomacy, Xi paid state visits to Papua New Guinea (PNG), Brunei and the Philippines, and attended the 26th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting.

Observers say that the strong messages China sent out during the week-long trip, particularly its commitment to opening-up and international collaboration, matter greatly in today's world.

WELCOME ABOARD

Building a digital future topped the agenda of this year's APEC meeting. As a leading innovator and investor in digital technologies, China has promised to share opportunities with other nations in the region for inclusive and more sustainable growth.

"Our goal should be for the benefits of digital economy to reach all member economies at different stages of development and for the people of the Asia-Pacific to get aboard the fast train of a growing digital economy," Xi said at the meeting.

According to official statistics, China's digital economy reached 27.2 trillion yuan (about 3.9 trillion U.S. dollars) in 2017, up 20.3 percent year on year and accounting for 32.9 percent of the country's GDP.

Chinese tech giants like Alibaba and Huawei have expanded their business in Asia-Pacific countries including PNG, offering digital services such as mobile payment and e-trade platforms and providing Internet infrastructure to create jobs and momentum for the local economy.

Meanwhile, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), proposed by China in 2013 and aimed at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe, Africa and beyond, has entered a new phase of full implementation.

Xi emphasized that China will work with all countries involved under the principle of consultation and collaboration for shared benefits to pursue the BRI against high standards so that it will create even greater development opportunities for the people in the Asia-Pacific and beyond.

"In April next year, China will host the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, and we welcome members of the Asia-Pacific business community to this event," he announced at the 2018 APEC CEO Summit.

CLOSER TIES

In a show of Beijing's commitment to engaging more closely with the rest of the world, China lifted its relations with PNG, Brunei and the Philippines to higher levels during Xi's trip.

During Xi's state visit to PNG, the first by a Chinese head of state to the Pacific island nation, the two sides agreed to upgrade their relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership, opening a new chapter in the development of bilateral interaction.

Also in PNG, Xi met with leaders of the eight Pacific island countries that have diplomatic ties with China, and they agreed to elevate their relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership featuring mutual respect and common development.

Xi's visit ignited a "China passion" in the PNG public. "China has helped us a lot. Look at the schools here, the road before the parliament," said Kila Vali, a farmer from central PNG. "They help teach us how to plant rice. This is important for people here who live by planting to sustain their lives."

In Brunei, the two countries agreed to upgrade their relations to a strategic cooperative partnership, and pledged to be good partners featuring mutual trust in politics, mutual benefit in economy, mutual understanding in people-to-people and cultural exchanges, and mutual assistance in multilateral affairs.

In the Philippines, the two Asian neighbors agreed to lift their ties to a comprehensive strategic cooperative relationship based on mutual respect, sincerity, equality and mutual benefit, and win-win cooperation.

"TRULY INSPIRING"

Against the backdrop of increasing unilateralist and protectionist shadows over the global horizon, Xi's statements drew worldwide attention and were widely believed to have infused a dose of confidence and certainty into international relations and global development.

"Openness and cooperation are the only way to ensure inclusive and sustainable development," said David Morris, trade commissioner with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, when commenting on Xi's speech at the APEC CEO Summit.

The achievements of APEC and the World Trade Organization have proven the benefits of free trade and open economies, and countries should "all recommit to further opening up," he said.

In their meeting with Xi, the leaders of Pacific island countries spoke highly of the leading role played by China in promoting sustainable development, tackling climate change and other areas, and vowed to strengthen communication and coordination with China on international affairs.

Philippine Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran said his country appreciates Xi's pledge that China welcomes the Philippines and other countries aboard the express train of its development.

"Many infrastructure projects are being implemented and I believe there will be more cooperation in the future," Beltran said.

Joahnna Esquivias, a Philippine delegate of the APEC Voices of the Future program, said she looks forward to the implementation of Xi's various proposals in the coming years.

"President Xi's speech was truly inspiring and focused on a future of prosperity shared by all," she said.

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