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Summer Davos Concludes with Hope, Suggestion
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As the curtain of three-day Summer Davos meeting in Dalian of northeastern China is lowered, participants are loaded with hope while voicing suggestions and making appeals.

Held in a developing country which has stunned the world with sustained economic miracle over the past three decades, the global meeting of the World Economic Forum surely had focused its heated topics on China's economic expansion.

Unexpected by the participants, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao pointed out China's economic hike was shadowed by problems such as unstable factors, imbalances and the lack of sustainability.

In spite of the challenges, he expressed confidence in the country's future economic growth. "Will such development momentum continue? My answer is yes. We are fully confident..." he said.

Nearly 2,000 domestic and foreign officials, specialists and business people could feel China's determination to achieve sustainable development the moment they arrived in Dalian, when their shuttle buses were powered by hybrid engines and the World Expo Center covering 140,000 square meters was cooled with sea water.

China announced the ambitious goal of reducing the energy consumption of per unit of its GDP (gross domestic product) by 20 percent and pollutant emission by ten percent during the 11th Five- Year Plan (2006-2010).

Thomas L. Friedman, author of the book The World is Flat, observed that China is undergoing a second economic transformation from polluting economy to clean economy, which can be harder than the transformation from planned economy to market economy.

However, he noted that the "green transformation" not only means challenge but also opportunity, and China is likely to become an innovator of low-cost green technologies.

Samuel A. DiPiazza, chief executive officer with PricewaterhouseCooper, pointed out that China has advantages in its cheap labor force and innovation capability. "Finding the right way, its high-value-added industries can boom like those with lower added values," he said.

Asia Chairman of Morgan Stanley Stephen Roach believed that China is undergoing an unavoidable travail period, after which its service industry shall stride onto a new stage.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao pledged at the Summer Davos that the government will "be committed to a comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable path of development that puts people's interests first."

"The premier's speech gives us a deeper insight into the inner thinking of China's development at current stage and higher degree of confidence in the country's future," said Professor Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum.

Talking about the Summer Davos, he believed it is "successful and fruitful". "This is probably the best meeting...and sessions from early morning to late night are interactive," he said.

He asked the delegates three questions in a panel session: Did you make a new partner? Did you find an idea that could make virtual change in your business strategy? Did you become aware of more responsibility concerning environmental protection and social wellness?

As to the first question, two thirds of the attendants put up their hands, while their responses to the last two questions were unanimously positive.

E. Neville Isdell, chairman and chief executive officer of the Coca-Cola Company, was inspired by the meeting, especially a conversation with Premier Wen Jiabao. "China is currently our fourth largest market, but I hope it could become No.1." He was optimistic.

Liu Jiren, chairman and chief executive officer of China's Liaoning-based Neosoft Group, said that he had found a partner of his company during the meeting, figured out the company's future direction and identified its responsibility.

A growth company community for "big companies in the process of becoming giant and multinational" has been set up during the meeting. Liu's Neosoft is one of the members.

Economic issue is not the only one grabbing the spotlight of the meeting.

At a plenary session on Saturday afternoon, Dr. Peter Piot, executive director of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), called on businesses to shoulder more responsibility while educating their employees.

"China is making enormous progress in combating HIV/AIDS," he said. "It has fully recognized the hazard of the disease and the government is becoming more transparent in publicizing relevant information."

According to estimates by the country's Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization, China has about 650,000 people living with HIV/AIDS at present, 75,000 of them have developed AIDS.

"Protecting the employees is not only out of morality, but also for the interests of the company," he said. However, he noted that few Chinese companies in the tide of economic boom realized the problem.

Piot suggested AIDS be included into a company's risk assessment.

He also said that the policies of non-discrimination should be drafted in the company, education as how to protect against the fatal disease be conducted and all employees should have access to free condoms.

Sir Martin Sorrel, chief executive officer of WPP Group, the world's second biggest advertising and marketing company, added that companies also have social responsibility to do their own part in the anti-AIDS campaign.

"Pharmaceutical companies should make breakthroughs in developing new medicines while logistic companies help deliver the medicine," he said.

Kawada Ryuhei, member of the House of Councilors in Japan, shared his experience as an HIV-infected with other participants. The 31-year-old man got infected by blood transfusion when he was a kid but has always remained optimistic.

After his speech titled "I do not give up hope", the modest Japanese was greeted with thunderous applause. "People's support made my future path shining with more hope," he beamed.

While participants were packing their luggage to leave the glitzy glass-walled World Expo Center, Tianjin City about 800 km away began to count down for the next session of Summer Davos.

"As Tianjin is closer to Beijing, I hope we can draw more participants," said Dai Xianglong, mayor of the coastal city.

Klaus Schwab said he hoped the next session would be another success.

(Xinhua News Agency September 9, 2007)

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