Boao Forum for Asia: A microcosm of China's globalization #Oriental Outlook#-Sino-US


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Boao Forum for Asia: A microcosm of China's globalization #Oriental Outlook#

Earlier in April, Boao, a small town in South China’s island province of Hainan, was once again in global spotlight as the host of an annual forum, especially when President Xi Jinping announced from the venue that China will open its door wider and expand international cooperation.

Boao, a small town of fishermen, has changed a lot in the past 17 years, since it became the permanent site for the annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia that was established in 2001 - the first international conference body located in China.

The BFA is a non-profit organization created as a forum for Asia, and its membership has grown from 26 to 80. Politicians, businessmen, scholars and NGOs took part in the discussions on the continent’s development.

In the fifteenth issue of 2018, the Oriental Outlook magazine under the Xinhua News Agency ran a cover story on the development of the BFA and its important role in Asian development, as well as its growing influence across the world.

Below is an excerpt of the article.

In 1990s, Boao was still a small town of about 15,000 fishermen and there wasn’t even a good asphalt road, but now it has 15,800 daily visitors, more than 10,000 square meters of conference venues and 10 hotels, with the local airport handling about 300,000 passengers a year.

This is all because of the rapid development of the Boao Forum for Asia.

Fidel Ramos, former Filipino president and founder of the BFA, said that when he first went to Boao in 1990s, it was still in wilderness. With the great support from the Chinese government, hotels and conference venues have been built.

The BFA was established in 2001, and its prestige in Asia has grown to resemble that of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. It has become the most influential non-government organization in Asia, and has moved forward to become a global platform for communication and dialogue.

The rapid development of the BFA has benefited from the fast economic growth of China and Asia, since it is the first international conference body based in China.
China has become an important growth engine for the global economy, and Asia is also registering impressive growth.

According to the World Bank, Asia’s gross domestic product (GDP) accounted for 15 percent of the world in 1952 and in 2015, it rose to 33.84 percent, higher than that of North America’s 27.95 percent and Europe’s 21.37 percent. In 2017, Asia contributed to 60 percent of the global economic growth.

As an international conference body, the BFA faced some innate challenges. Compared with other continents, like Europe and North America, Asia contains several civilizations, ethnic groups and religions. The differences in development level, ideology and social systems hamper communication among countries.

President Xi Jinping said on April 10 that four decades of reform and opening-up has given many valuable inspirations, and the most important one is that for any country or nation to achieve rejuvenation, they must follow the logic of history and the trend of the times in their pursuit of progress and development.

Now, the overwhelming trend is one of peace and cooperation, and the BFA has focused on integrating the consensus, promoting cooperation among all sides, promoting economic globalization and creating a shared future for mankind.

The BFA has developed along with the logic of history and the trend, providing wisdom in pushing ahead peaceful cooperation, openness, innovation and reform.

Economic integration in Asia

The BFA was established in February 2001, and its first annual conference was held in 2002. From a town of fishermen to a modern town holding an international conference, Boao has become a microcosm of China’s globalization.

Long Yongtu, former secretary of the BFA, said that when the BFA was established, China had also become a member of the World Trade Organization, and the topics of its first annual conference mainly focused on the win-win cooperation in Asia.

As a dialogue platform for Asia and the emerging economies, the topics of the BFA annual conferences are closely connected with the new trend, problems and expectations of development in Asia.

From 2002 to 2017, Asia appeared 19 times as key word in thematic discussions, and win-win appeared five times. Though the different annual conferences focused on different topics, the goal always was clear – to push forward a common development of Asian countries.

In 2015, China launched the Vision and Proposed Actions Outlined on Jointly Building the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, proposing the direction and missions in building the “Belt and Road” together.

In recent years, the Belt and Road Initiative has become a vehicle for economic integration in Asia and has deepened cross-border cooperation at different levels.

Infrastructure construction facilitates trade and people’s travel along the Belt and Road routes. Asian countries jointly explored and established a network system of free trade areas of high standards along the routes. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and Silk Road Fund played a key role in establishing and improving an investment and financing system in Asia.

According to data from the Ministry of Commerce in January, China has become the largest trade partner of 16 Asian countries, having deep connections in trade and economics.

Shaukat Aziz, a former Pakistani prime minister, said that the proposal of Belt and Road has further leveled up the integration and cooperation in Asia, and President Xi Jinping used the proposal to give a direction for China’s future development, which is also a direction for other countries to follow.

In 2018, reports on Asian economic integration, emerging economies and competitiveness of Asia have been launched, providing advice and suggestions for the Asian development.

Facing the world

Hundreds of politicians, businessmen and scholars joined in discussions at the forum themed “An Open and Innovative Asia for a World of Greater Prosperity,” offering views on the future of Asia and the world from April 8 to 11.

Wang Yiwei, a professor of international studies at Renmin University of Beijing, said that “the forum’s theme reflects Asia’s more and more important role in driving the global economic growth.”

In 2017, China contributed 30 percent to the global economic growth, and Asia contributed 50 percent, becoming a well-deserved stabilizer and power source.

During the past 17 years, the BFA has witnessed Asia’s economic growth. During the globalization process, Asia has become an area with the greatest economic vitality in the world.

Asia is the largest goods and services trade market, an important source of foreign direct investment and a key destination for FDI, and has a big concentration of emerging economies.

Carlos Gutierrez, former US secretary of commerce, said that the forum was established on the basis of openness, understanding, inclusiveness and closer economic integration, which would boost the peace and prosperity in the region and the world.

The BFA focuses on Asian countries, and addressed the question of how to solve the relationship between Asia and the world? Long Yongtu said that President Xi Jinping’s speeches at the annual conferences in 2013 and 2015 offered the answer.

Xi said that mankind has only one earth and it is home to all countries. Asia belongs to the world, and for Asia to move toward a community of shared future, it needs to push forward the building of a community of shared future for all mankind.

The concept of building “a community of shared future for all humankind” was incorporated into a UN resolution in March 2017. In a new era, China is more committed to building a new international relationship and creating a community of shared future for Asia and humankind.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said that China has played a more important role in promoting the implementation of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development and South-South cooperation.

Ni Yueju, a researcher of world economic studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that in the backdrop of the global economic uncertainties and the rise of global protectionism, the BFA needs to play a role in leveling up the sense of common community and providing wisdom in creating a prosperous Asia and the world.

Importance of BFA

Asia is becoming the fastest growing and most dynamic region in the world, which has aroused the world’s growing attention to the Asian economic development and the BFA.

While the global economic growth has slowed down, East Asia and South Asia have seen 5.5 percent and 6.7 percent growth in 2016, becoming the engines of the global economy.

In 2017, Asia contributed 60 percent of the economic growth, and according to the International Monetary Fund’s prospect, Asia’s emerging economies and developing countries would see 6.5 percent growth in 2018, still contributing more than 50 percent to the global growth.

Following the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative and the facilitation of regional integration, China and Asian countries have forged closer economic ties, deeper and broader cooperation, and therefore the value of the BFA was further reinforced.

The BFA has become an important platform for countries to seek cooperation and enhance the economic ties, fulfilling the general economic development and rejuvenation of Asia.

Asia’s economic development and vitality has not only driven the economic cooperation among countries in the region but also attracted the countries and enterprises outside to pay attention to Asia economies.

The BFA is expected to play an active role in solving the pressing regional and global issues.

Though Asia is still the fastest growing region with highest vitality and potential, a new World Bank report has expressed concern over whether the growth could be continued as the global economy was close to saturation point, and there were downside risks that would impact 65 percent of economies, including Asia.

Besides, till 2015, among 48 Asian countries, there were 44 developing countries, including nine least developed countries, about 19 percent of the world’s least developed countries, which showed the imbalanced development.

Now, the globalization is facing tough challenges, and how to deal with the risks in is an issue faced by all Asian countries, which could not be solved by one or several countries. It can only be solved through coordination and cooperation.

The BFA offers a platform for countries to exchange ideas and communicate with each other, a reason that shows the importance of the BFA.

The BFA offers a platform for different voices from different groups, such as politicians, businessmen, and scholars. The topics are based on the current situation, and academic reports are launched to provide intellectual support.

China, the largest developing country and the second-largest economy, has played a role of booster in the global economic recovery, and it offers new concepts and wisdom.

As the host of the BFA headquarters, China has played active role in leading the regional and global economic growth, and offering a concrete foundation for the BFA’s development.

China is the beneficiary and participant of the existing international orders, and it offers concept, multilateral mechanisms and platforms in cooperation, such as the Belt and Road Initiative, which are supplemental to the BFA.


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