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Boao offers steady forum in uncertain Asia


11:24, April 02, 2013

The Boao Forum For Asia Annual Conference 2013 will organize 54 parallel sessions around the theme of "Asia Seeking Development for All: Restructuring, Responsibility & Cooperation" from April 6 to 8.

A glance over the draft program immediately draws the eye to interesting topics such as China's reform agenda, structural reform in Europe, global governance reform and G20, and so on.

But internal and external conditions for development in Asia are still complex, grim and full of uncertainties. There are so many uncertain factors, from the European debt crisis to the outcome of China's efforts to stabilize growth, to restructure its economy, and to transform its economic development models under the pressure of overcapacity, looming inflation and local governments' fiscal and financial risks. That's not to mention the risks of economic reforms in India and the consequences of Japan's limitless quantitative easing policy.

All these and other worries are posing challenges for Asian development. What impact will each of these challenges exert on Asian economies? Which of these challenges have to be dealt with by joint actions of the whole region? What responsibilities does each of the Asian countries have to shoulder?

What mechanisms are needed to make better use of the complementary features of Asia economies and of intra-regional demand resources so as to cultivate endogenous growth driving forces? These questions are the biggest common concerns in Asia.

The Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) is an important platform truly dominated by Asians for common interests and from Asian perspectives in order to promote exchanges and cooperation among Asian countries, as well as with other regions of the world.

The BFA annual conferences, while discussing hot issues of common concerns of all Asian countries, should not forget about long-term and strategic topics concerning the overall development of regional economic integration in Asia aiming at a win-win outcome and development for all.

Economic globalization has been an irreversible trend for decades. Regional economic integration has proved not a resistance to but a strong driving force for economic globalization. But Asian countries have diverse histories, cultures, religions, traditions and values. They are also in different phases of development and have pursued different development models.

Not many years ago, people in any Asian country knew far less about each other than they knew about the US and Europe. This has left the process of regional economic integration in Asia far behind Europe and North America.

In the first few years after the BFA's establishment, when the China Institute for Reform and Development, which I have been working with, was the only intellectual-supporting organization for BFA. It organized physical and online discussions on many topics during the process of formulating proposed themes and major topics for the BFA's annual conference.

These included vision, phases of development, ultimate goals, medium-term goals and the immediate objectives of and strategic routes toward Asia's regional economic integration.

As a multilateral mechanism for regional economic integration in Asia, the BFA annual conference, besides addressing currently hot topics of common concern, should also continuously discuss overarching, long-term and strategic topics about the development of the BFA as an important mechanism for advancing regional economic integration in Asia.

A harmonious Asia, intra-regional cooperation and development for all constitute the common pursuits of all Asian countries. In building a harmonious Asia, the BFA has an important and irreplaceable role to play.

In 2003 when the momentum of economic cooperation between China and Japan was dynamic, while the political relations were as worrisome as they are now, the then Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi came to attend the BFA annual conference. Mutual trust between the two countries was somewhat improved and differences were somewhat bridged.

Let's hope that Asian countries regard the BFA annual conference as an unofficial "Asian UN General Assembly" and make better use of it. It should be taken as a high-level platform for seniors to exchange views, clarify demands, enhance mutual understanding and promote Asia's harmony.


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