China’s Boao Forum to commence today

The Boao Forum begins today in China’s Hainan province. Described as the ‘Davos of the East’, the conference will feature

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Photo: South China Morning Post

The Boao Forum begins today in China’s Hainan province.

Described as the ‘Davos of the East’, the conference will feature Chinese leaders and foreign dignitaries both in-person and virtually. The theme this year is the trajectory of the post-COVID-19 economic recovery for the Asia-Pacific and countries involved in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The most important topics of the Boao Forum will be plans for Hainan’s free trade port and the reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Establishing a free trade port in Hainan will provide more market access into China for Southeast Asian countries. China will advertise both the new port and additional BRI infrastructure as a means of stimulating the region’s economic recovery.

The Appellate Body of the WTO, responsible for enforcing WTO rules, sits empty due to former US president Donald Trump’s actions last year to block the appointment of new judges. Reforms to the WTO, actively sought by China and the broader international community, are likely to include removing US veto power for the Appellate Body. With these reforms, the international organisation will no longer be under tight US control, indirectly increasing China’s influence within the organisation.

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