The Boao Forum for Asia, 20 years on: A boost for the development of Asia and the world

(People's Daily Online) 15:48, April 19, 2021

The 2021 Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference is being held from 18 to 21 April. The Forum was launched 20 years ago amid the opportunities and challenges at the turn of the century, and has become a high-level platform for political and economic dialogue with worldwide influence. With a founding purpose to promote economic integration in Asia and a current mission to pool positive energy for the development of Asia and the world, the BFA contributes wisdom to global development and prosperity. The theme of this year’s annual conference — “A World in Change: Join Hands to Strengthen Global Governance and Advance Belt and Road Cooperation” highlights the will and resolve of all parties to respond to great changes in the world and seek development.

Photo taken on April 17, 2021 shows the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) International Conference Center in Boao, south China's Hainan Province. (Xinhua/Yang Guanyu)

The BFA builds a broad consensus for common development. At the beginning of the new century, aiming at promoting regional cooperation to jointly respond to the Asian financial crisis, the proposal of establishing the Boao Forum for Asia received wide support. Since then, the annual conference has become one of the most closely watched conferences in the world. It brings together political leaders, entrepreneurs, experts and scholars from Asia and beyond to discuss plans for future development.

Disruptions to the flow of personnel, production factors and goods worldwide by COVID-19 have made countries’ aspiration for development even stronger. In this context, the Forum’s focus on Belt and Road cooperation shows the determination of Asian countries to advance international cooperation. This will help countries build more consensus on development and boost confidence in growth. With the help of the BFA, the Belt and Road cooperation will gain stronger vitality and better contribute to the common development of countries.

The BFA presents Asian initiatives for win-win cooperation. While taking a global perspective, the Forum has always focused on Asia. President Xi Jinping pointed out in his keynote speech at the 2015 annual conference that “We should, through efforts towards such a community for Asia, promote a community of common interest for all mankind.” It was also at the BFA that many major cooperative mechanisms originated in the Asia-Pacific region were improved, including the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations (CDAC) . Thanks to the Forum, these mechanisms achieved greater cooperation results, injecting vitality to mutually beneficial cooperation of countries in the region.

This year’s annual conference will discuss topics such as the shared aspirations of Asia and the prospects and influences of the RCEP. With in-depth discussion, the BFA is sure to present more strategic and forward-looking proposals for Asia’s development.

The BFA provides a Boao approach for global governance. In recent years, facing waves of anti-globalization, China has repeatedly voiced support for openness, cooperation and multilateralism at the BFA. In 2018, President Xi Jinping pointed out in his keynote speech at the BFA annual conference that “China’s door of opening-up will not be closed and will only open even wider”, giving a powerful boost to the world economy overshadowed by protectionism, decoupling, and severance of industrial or supply chains.

As the world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century, global governance faces unprecedented challenges. In this context, while prioritizing economic development, the BFA broadens its scope to cover such fields as innovation, health, education, culture, and media. Major topics for discussion include health, multilateral trading system and financial system reforms, high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, poverty reduction and inclusive growth, climate change and green development, digital economy, and artificial intelligence. The Forum will provide new ideas, approaches and methods for improving global governance and achieving sustainable development.

Over the past two decades, the Forum has played a significant role in boosting the development of a prosperous Asia and building a community with a shared future for mankind and delivered fruitful results. For the next two decades, the BFA will continue to focus on Asia while maintaining its global perspective and make new contributions to the common development and mutual benefit of countries around the world.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)


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