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Thursday, November 15th, 2018

Media Leaders Summit of the Boao Forum for Asia: Why is it important for the world?

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From 9 to 11 April, within the framework of the Boao Forum, Sanya city (China) held the summit with its theme of “A New Era of Media Cooperation in Asia-Interconnectivity and Innovative Development”, which brought together representatives of the media from more than forty countries of the Eurasian continent. Read about the main issues that were raised during the meeting in the analytical material of Strategy2050.kz.

The Boao Asian Forum, which is unofficially called the “Eastern Davos”, is a non-governmental international organization set up to build cooperation (economic, social, cultural and humanitarian), and exchange experiences among representatives of Asian states. This year, the Forum is mainly devoted to the Chinese “Belt and Road” Initiative.

The Media Summit was organized by the Boao Forum Secretariat, the China Central Radio and Television and the Chinese People’s Diplomacy Association (co-organized by the Propaganda Department of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee of Hainan Province). China successfully uses “soft power” to promote its ideology, which, according to experts inside the country, is already ready for “export”.

What does China offer to other countries? The answer to this question can be traced even in the topics of the panel sessions of the Summit:

“Media exchange and cooperation to help build a community with a shared Asian future”;

“Construction of the “One Belt, One Road” Initiative and New Opportunities for International Communication”;

“40 years of reform and opening up: China’s development and global opportunities”;

“Asia’s kaleidoscope of cultures: exchange and mutual knowledge”.

In addition to the obvious and traditional call for “cultural exchange”, the other three sections are dedicated to China itself. Thus, the “community with a shared future” is a Chinese ideological project that envisages the formation of loyalties to Chinese civilization and culture in border states, and in the future, all over the world. In Beijing, people feel that the country has grown from the habitual role of a rapidly growing economic power and is ready to fully influence the world order. Proposed as a replacement for the old paradigm of international relations, the idea of the community with a shared future contains two postulates:

– the world is fragmented, it is very different, and we must accept it;

– all countries and societies are interdependent nowadays, and they need to develop a unified approach to solving world problems.

On the one hand, this idea is especially attractive for non-Western societies that are more likely to feel the burden of globalization and the blurring of their identity. On the other hand, the authorities of many Asian states have already expressed this idea is critical because they understand that China’s initiative also provides its leadership in organizing a new world order. This state of affairs may contain certain risks, especially for countries that are already dependent on China.

The “Belt and Road” (now Chinese experts ask for terming) is a project of a strategic, civilizational nature, very multi-layered and long-term. Along railway, highway and sea routes, China also builds communication links. That is why the synophobia reduction (anti-Chinese sentiments) is critically important because it really becomes a problem for Beijing even in economic projects.

The result of the Summit was the signing of the Declaration on jointly promoting the Belt and Road News Cooperation Alliance by representatives of 59 Asian media representing 32 countries. This document says that the alliance “will be created on the basis of mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit and on a voluntary basis”.

To date, in terms of technology and innovation China is a powerful force that sometimes brings into play incredible innovations. For example, it uses blocking technology to track whether a citizen has spent his social benefits on target spending, or, for example, lost in an online casino or bought alcohol? The face tracking system allows to write out fines addressed to a person who ran across a road against the traffic lights.

China’s industry, including in IT sphere, has long outgrown the blind copying of Western brands and technologies: today advanced inventions are increasingly appearing inside China. Here we have much to learn. In the sphere of innovations and information technologies, our country is already interested in cooperation with China. For example, according to the Ministry of Economy of Kazakhstan, the two most significant Kazakhstani imports from China are telephone sets, including mobile phones (by 464.6 million US dollars) and computers (by 203 million US dollars).

But there is another side of the coin. China, in particular, on the SCO platform, promotes the idea of introducing a unified system for regulating the information environment on the territory of eight member states. Of course, Chinese diplomats are referring to the expansion of the use of the Chinese modeland, as you know, it is not from the democratic model. The country has limited access to Western social networks, which is explained by protectionism in relation to the national universal service WeChat. In addition, foreign search systems (such as Google or Yahoo), operating in China, are forced to apply special algorithms to filter search results in accordance with Chinese law. The “Golden Shield” project, which has been operating in China since 2003, provides censorship in the network. Of course, the Communist Party of China controls all media. Such “regulation” clearly does not fit Kazakhstan, whose constitution prescribes citizens’ rights to freedom of speech and free information.

The Boao Media Summit this year once again showed China’s interest in supporting its initiatives in the Asian space. Such a request is also addressed to Kazakhstan as a key partner of the People’s Republic of China in implementing the “Belt and Road” initiative in Central Asia. Undoubtedly, our country needs to continue developing relations with one of the leading economies of the world, the state that in recent years has set trends in global politics. However, in doing so, it is necessary first of all to be guided by national interests.

Source: Kazakhstan 2050

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