Dean Men Honghua had been invited to attend the China Development Forum 2021
Time: 2021-03-20

The China Development Forum (CDF) 2021, hosted by the Development Research Center of the State Council and organized by the China Development Research Foundation, was held simultaneously online and offline in the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse of Beijing, March 20-22, 2021. Themed “China on a New Journey of Modernization”, this forum brought together political, business and academic leaders from home and abroad for exchanges on special topics.

Professor Men Honghua, Distinguished Professor at Tongji, President of the Institute for China & World Studies, Dean of the School of Political Science & International Relations, Tongji University, and Director of Tongji Base for Research on International Governance of Cyberspace under the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) & the Ministry of Education (MOE), was invited to attend the forum and delivered a keynote speech at the special session themed “Third-Party Cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative”.

This special session was moderated by Professor Hu Biliang, Executive Dean of the Belt and Road School, Beijing Normal University and Dean of the Emerging Markets Institute, Beijing Normal University. Participants also included: Martina Merz, Chairwoman of the Supervisory Board and CEO of ThyssenKrupp AG; Li Xiaoyun, a senior chair professor of humanities at China Agricultural University and Honorary Dean of the College of International Development and Global Agriculture (CIDGA); Jeremy Weir, Executive Chairman and CEO of Trafigura; and Fang Qiuchen, Chairman of the China International Contractors Association (CHINCA). In particular, five speakers, including Dean Men, shared their research findings and insights both online and offline, and expressed their visions and suggestions for third-party market cooperation under the BRI.

In his keynote speech “Chinese Path for Third-Party Market Cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative”, Dean Men first said that COVID-19 has led the world to an era of de-globalization, return of strong nationalism, and enhanced regional cooperation, during which a new model of international cooperation theory is taking shape on the basis of international coordination and global governance in recent years. This theory seeks to further emphasize the common interests of mankind, calling for joint response to challenges around the globe, so that countries are possible to share the promising future together. As the promoter of this new concept of international cooperation, China has proposed the Belt and Road Initiative to advance third-party market cooperation based on the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits.

Dean Men pointed out that different from the Western powers’ acts during their colonial expansion, the third-party market cooperation under the BRI focuses on strategic value, national prestige, and international morality and justice in addition to economic benefits. Such cooperation is characterized by government promotion and the realization of long-term mutual benefit, with the purpose of expanding regional influence and improving national image, improving the environment for third-party economic development, and building an equitable and rational international order. In practice, countries involved follow China’s principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits and value the concept of multilateralism, considering all-win outcomes as the common pursuit.

Third-party market cooperation is mainly driven by the partners’ strategic willingness and the degree of institutionalized cooperation. The expansion of common interests has important guiding significance, and the level of strategic alignment can be regarded as the core benchmark. The characteristics of third-party market cooperation promoted by China mainly include: (1) It is the extension and practice of the BRI cooperation; (2) The BRI has provided geographical support for this cooperation; (3) It pursues joint development rather than occupying the market, underlining cooperation with developed countries in the developing world to seek mutual benefits among three parties; (4) It leverages the initiative of governments and the leadership of enterprises, giving full play to the vitality of markets and enabling governments to play the roles of strategic deployment and international coordination, organization and mobilization; (5) It follows the principle of win-win cooperation and emphasizes mutual complementarity – China will cooperate with other developing countries to develop the third-party market where appropriate.

As indicated by Dean Men, affected by the institutional difference between the two parties, the uncertainty of the third party, and the market competition caused by great-power competition, the third-party market cooperation under China’s BRI still has severe challenges to address. Faced with these challenges, China should deepen its understanding of third-party market cooperation and advance the cooperation based on the existing institutionalized cooperation network; strengthen political dialogue and coordination between the two parties, reduce misunderstanding and miscalculation, and prevent serious disturbance from great-power competition to stabilize political expectations; strengthen policy communication and strategic coordination among the three parties; strengthen the basis of common interests and principle of economic benefits for third-party market cooperation, and avoid excessive political implications.

On the sideline of the forum, Dean Men was invited to attend the plenary meeting of CDF 2021 and other thematic forums such as the Economic Summit. Han Zheng, Vice Premier of the State Council and a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, attended the opening ceremony of the forum and delivered a speech.

The annual CDF has been held for 21 consecutive sessions since 2000. Under the mandate, “Engaging with the world for common prosperity”, CDF serves as an important platform for Chinese government to carry out high-level exchanges and discussions with leaders of global businesses and international organizations as well as foreign and Chinese scholars.