China’s premier just extolled the virtues of openness on a news site blocked by China

Applauding openness.
Applauding openness.
Image: AP Photo/Ng Han Guan
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China’s premier Li Keqiang championed globalization in a rare commentary published today (Jan. 26) on Bloomberg’s website. Touting Beijing’s buzz phrase “a community of shared destiny,” Li wrote, “We remain convinced that economic openness serves everyone better, at home and abroad.”

But the irony is clear—China is not open to Bloomberg itself.

Contrary to Li’s thesis, Beijing has long blocked Bloomberg’s news sites—along with those of many other Western news outlets. Chinese citizens have to jump the Great Firewall to reach those news services, which is becoming harder these days.

Like many foreign news services, Bloomberg offers a carefully selected sampling of its reportage through Chinese social media platforms to work around the censors. Shortly after Li’s commentary was first released on bloomberg.com, the publisher also offered the piece with a Chinese translation on its official WeChat account (link in Chinese). The same column will also appear in an upcoming English edition of Bloomberg Businessweek magazine, the publisher noted on WeChat.

While US president Donald Trump is bringing his promised protectionist policies into reality, Beijing has emerged as something of the exact opposite—a vocal supporter of the global economy. Li’s piece for Bloomberg came a week after Chinese president Xi Jinping’s big speech about globalization at the World Economics Forum in Davos, during which he rebuked Trump without mentioning his name.

Li devoted most of his commentary to rounding up China’s economic achievements, which he believes are good for the global economy. He ended the piece in a reassuring tone:

In a world with a plethora of uncertainties, China offers an anchor of stability and growth with its consistent message of support for reform, openness, and free trade. The times may be difficult. But that’s all the more reason not to lose sight of these principles, which have stood China—and the world—in good stead.

Beijing’s openness to the world is selective. Last week, authorities published a notice demanding a “cleanup” of the country’s internet access service market, which includes virtual private networks, the primary tool that internet users in China rely on to access banned websites.

In recent days, Chinese officials have notably increased their presence in Western media to address key policies that have been challenged by Trump. In an exclusive interview with NBC this week, Lu Kang, a spokesperson with the Chinese foreign ministry, warned that the Trump administration should steer clear of issues related to Taiwan and the South China Sea.