Rome (AsiaNews) -
On his arrival in Beijing this morning after a long trip to Europe, Chinese
President Xi Jinping carried a suitcase full of economic deals and things left
Between 22 March
and 1 April, he attended the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, and visited
four nations: the Netherlands, France, Germany and Belgium.
During his stay,
he met UNESCO officials in Paris and European Union leaders in Brussels.
In every country
he visited, he signed economic deals and promised more open markets.
Netherlands, he signed a deal on food safety for a million Euros.
In France, the
deals were worth €18 billion (US$ 25 billion) in aircraft, auto, nuclear power,
In Germany, his
visit marks the rise of Frankfurt as a major centre for Renminbi clearing with
the establishment of a 350 billion-yuan (US billion) and 45 billion-euro (US$
62 billion) bilateral swap line between the PBOC and the ECB in October.
In Belgium, in
addition to a visit to a zoo to open a habitat for a pair of giant pandas on
loan from Beijing, Xi spoke the day after the Antwerp World Diamond Centre and
the Shanghai Diamond Exchange signed a cooperation agreement to boost trade in gems
between Belgium and China.
Regrettably, he did
not meet any journalist. Even
in Brussels, at EU headquarters, where he came to ease trade tensions with Europe,
Xi Jinping declined the offer by EU leaders to take part in a press conference.
Tight security during
his visits were strategically planned so as to minimise the risk of protests by
and for Uighurs, Tibetans, and other activists.
Without Borders did nevertheless stage a demonstration, driving lorries at dawn
before the streets were blocked off to raise awareness about China's crackdown
on media and limits on freedom of expression.
for a few words about pandas, French cuisine and the clothes of China's first
lady, Ms Peng Liyuan, President Xi was all business and trade.
The only place Xi
Jinping said anything worth noting was at the College of Europe, a postgraduate
institute in Bruges (Belgium) that trains European leaders and diplomats.
After the College
opened the first China Library in Europe on Friday, he delivered a speech centred
on economic issues.
Playing on the meaning
of Bruges (old Flemish for 'bridges'), a city also known as the 'Venice of the
North'), Xi said he had come to Europe to build bridges of friendship and
cooperation across the Eurasian continent - what he called the "four bridges
for peace, growth, reform and the progress of civilisation".
He went on to
say that his broader goal is to rebuild a new Silk Road to integrate Asia and
Europe, so that China and the European Union can operate as "twin engines for
global economic growth," resulting in a trillion dollar annual bilateral trade
with the EU by 2020.
his support for open markets, he focused on his country's special character. The
Chinese people, he explained, "had come to understand this from a simple fact,"
namely "that the tasty orange, grown in southern China, would turn sour once it
is grown in the north".
country cannot copy the political system or development model of other
Still, Xi insisted
that China would not stop "reform and opening-up" even though the "problems
crying to be resolved are all difficult ones". Indeed, the country's development
would continue bringing new development opportunities to the world.
Stressing that China
would follow a development model that fits its reality, Xi said that the path
that led to China's "success" is that of "socialism with Chinese
Before this, the
Chinese people had "experimented with constitutional monarchy, imperial
restoration, parliamentarism, multi-party system and presidential government,
yet nothing really worked".
In his low-profile
yet pride-filled speech "with Chinese characteristics," he tried to dazzle
European nations with the lure of huge profits, convincing them to continue investing
in China, whilst allowing Chinese goods into the EU at little or no tariffs.
Europe, too, wants
China to reduce its red tape, which are affecting European exports, but heard
nothing on the issue. A
deal is in the works, but nothing concrete has yet materialised.
In his speech, Xi
also addressed his fellow Chinese. Since
he came to power as general secretary of the Party and then as president, many
within the regime have been waiting for more political reforms to curb rampant
corruption, lessen oppression of the population and open up the media, as well
as fight pollution and unfettered economic development. However,
other factions within the Party are against any reform fearing that the People's
Republic might end up like the Soviet Union, collapsing politically, as well as
From what he
said in Bruges, it is clear that Xi's much heralded reforms will apply only to
the economic field and that they will never affect the power of the one-party
state since, as he put it, China has already experimented with multi-party
For one his advisers,
Shi Zhihong, a former deputy director of the Central Policy Research Office, any
moves to curb the party's authority might create instability and disorder.
Things on the
ground suggest otherwise. It is the one party state's oppression and violence,
its unfettered political and economic power that cause instability and tensions.
Just for the
period of 2006-2010, the official figure for "mass incidents", as the party
calls them, topped 180,000.
And there is
more to it.
Socialism with Chinese characteristics was imposed on hundreds of millions of
people - it was never chosen.