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Experts stress need for global unity

Author  :  CAO DESHENG and MA ZHIPING     Source  :    China Daily     2020-11-16

Experts discuss China's opening-up and multilateralism during the 86th International Forum on China Reform in Haikou, Hainan province, on Saturday. FENG YONGBIN/CHINA DAILY

Multilateralism seen as key to reducing impact of pandemic

Domestic and international scholars and experts have called for upholding multilateralism, international solidarity and regional economic integration to reduce the impact of protectionism and the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy.

Remotely joining panel discussions on the sidelines of the 86th International Forum on China Reform, a two-day event which ended on Sunday in Haikou, Hainan province, Pascal Lamy, former director-general of the World Trade Organization, said the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of global solidarity in combating the common problems of humanity.

While underlining the need to reform the existing international system where necessary as it fails to adapt to the changes in the world, Lamy called for international cooperation to promote multilateralism.

He expressed appreciation for China's efforts to build an open economy. He said free trade is essential in the globalized world and it is also important to ensure the free flow of production factors.

Ou Boqian, vice-president of the Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs, said that history and reality have proved that multilateralism is a good choice for coping with global challenges.

She cited a recent United Nations survey in which around 90 percent of respondents said they believe multilateralism is the critical approach needed to deal with the challenges the world is facing today.

In today's world. where countries' interests are highly integrated, multilateralism is the right way forward, and building a community with a shared future for mankind adheres to current trends, Ou added.

In a speech delivered to the forum via video link, Bert Hofman, director of the East Asian Institute at National University of Singapore, said that multilateralism is essential because international relationships are increasingly complex.

"If you don't give a big push, probably what you are going to end up with is something of a patchwork world-a much less efficient world than the one where we have big international agreements, where trade and investment and finance are basically regulated on one common ground and which enables the free flow of production factors across borders," Hofman said.

He expressed hope that the next United States administration will work together with China and the European Union to take their overlapping interests into consideration and avoid ending up in that patchwork world.

Zhao Jinping, research fellow and former director-general of the Research Department of Foreign Economic Relations at the Development Research Center of the State Council, said regional economic collaboration is an important part of multilateral cooperation, and an open world economy calls for regional economic integration.

Given rising protectionism and the fallout of the pandemic, there is an urgent need to stabilize the industrial and supply chains, which provide opportunities for advancing regional economic integration, Zhao said.

Editor: Yu Hui

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