UPDATED at 12:18 P.M. EST on 2018-11-30
The ruling Chinese Communist Party has invited political parties from around the world for a "dialogue," after President Xi Jinping vowed to lead the country to a higher profile in world affairs.
Xi was slated to address the conference, which will "pool wisdom" over the challenges faced by humanity, official media reported.
"It is hoped that parties can learn from each other ... and reach consensus on major issues concerning the future of mankind," organizer Guo Yezhou, head of the ruling party's international department, told journalists at a recent briefing.
Leaders from more than 200 parties and political organizations in more than 120 countries will converge on Beijing for the event, which runs from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3, Guo said.
The party's international department has previously been a fairly low-profile affair, but appears to be being given more to do following the unveiling of Xi's new brand of political thought.
Guo said the meeting would be expounding, in depth, Xi's "Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era" and share the Chinese Communist Party's vision for a "shared future for mankind."
A Chinese historian who asked to be identified only by his surname Li said none of the political parties currently running major world powers would be represented, however.
"These parties basically lack influence in their home countries," Li said. "Some are formed of just a few dozen people, or 100 or so members. They don't necessarily have the same sort of ideas or the same kind of clout as our ruling party."
He said the event says more about changes in domestic Chinese politics than it does about any global leadership role for Beijing.
"It's all about showing off the ideology, and expanding it a bit further using economic muscle," Li said. "There's not very much of interest; they are looking to extend their hegemony."
"I don't think we will be seeing anyone from the Western political elite there," he said.
'The Lady' heads to Beijing
De facto Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi will be among those attending the event in Beijing.
New York-based human rights lawyer Ye Ning said her appearance in Beijing comes against the backdrop of a crackdown by Myanmar’s military in the country's northern Rakhine state that has forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslim refugees over the border into Bangladesh.
"Just as China is trying to paint this rosy picture of the whole world flocking to its door ... Aung San Suu Kyi is heading to Beijing to take part in this so-called international event for political parties," Ye said.
"It's pretty appropriate, actually, because just as Myanmar under Aung San Suu Kyi is getting rid of its unwanted [Rohingya] population, so Beijing is getting rid of its 'low-end population'," he said.
"These are despicable political acts, and devoid of moral compass: She should be stripped of her Nobel Peace Prize," he said,
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last week said the army's action against the Rohingya constitutes ethnic cleansing and said Washington could target individuals who committed atrocities with sanctions.
‘Raise that banner’
A Beijing-based journalist surnamed Lu said China is now the main heir of the internationalist tradition in communism.
"This isn't going to happen in the Western world, and it couldn't happen under Mao [during Soviet times], so the Chinese are the only people who can raise that banner now," Lu said, referring to Mao Zedong, founder of the People’s Republic of China which he ruled as party chairman from 1949 to 1976.
"There's a bit of carrot and stick involved too," he said. "If we just gave them money, then they'd just take it and run."
But he said he had no idea what it meant for Chinese socialism.
"Who can say where the revolution is headed?" he asked satirically. "Heaven alone knows."
The forum comes after nearly 30 heads of state gathered in Beijing last May for President Xi Jinping's "Belt and Road" global infrastructure initiative, colloquially known as the New Silk Road.
Comparing nations to "swans and geese" that can fly through storms as a team, Xi pledged to pour an extra U.S. $124 billion into the China-bankrolled project, including plans for ports, railways, roads, and industrial parks, on top of some U.S. $890 billion earmarked by the China Development Bank.
However, a number of European Union countries — France, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Portugal, and Britain — refused to sign one of the forum's trade communiques, citing concerns over the transparency of public procurement and social and environmental standards.
Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service and by Ma Lap-hak for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.