Diplomat spells out Boao's broadening vision

By Wu Jin
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, March 11, 2012
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Veteran diplomat Zhou Wenzhong has taken center stage at the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), following in the footsteps of his influential predecessor Long Yongtu, known for his success in negotiating China's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001.

BFA General-Secretary Zhou Wenzhong [File photo]

Zhou Wenzhong, General-Secretary of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) [File photo] 

A Jiangsu native, born in Chongqing in 1945, Zhou was the former ambassador to the United States, and counts fluent English among his many skills.

As the General Secretary of the BFA, Zhou hopes that the upcoming annual Asian forum, which will kick off next month, can go beyond the region and attract as many emerging economies as possible.

"We hope that people will instinctively think of Boao when seeking a platform to discuss the issues facing emerging economies," Zhou, a Chinese People's Political Conference (CPPCC) member, told China.org.cn in an email interview a few days ahead of the ongoing National People's Congress (NPC) and CPPCC political sessions. In its aim to broaden its vision for the future, BFA extended invitations for last year's forum to Russia, Brazil and South Africa.

Established in 1998 by a group of Asia leaders seeking to emulate the model of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, BFA operates as a non-official non-profit organization mainly committed to enhancing cooperation between, and integration of, Asian economies. In the past few years, the forum has witnessed the devastating Asian financial crisis, as well as China's ensuing accession to the WTO.

However, the global economic crisis has provided a new focus for the forum, and it has attracted approximately 2,000 of the world's most persuasive lobbyists, including state leaders, businesspeople, scholars and activists.

Discussions at this year's forum will focus on the reform of the International Monetary System, the opening up of the private financial sector, philanthropic reform, economic restructuring and market positioning as well as economic reform and income distribution.

When referring to the reform of the International Monetary System reform, Zhou stressed that the problem was not whether reform should happen, but rather how it should happen.

According to Zhou, the forum will focus on discussions aimed at exploring the guidelines and directions for the reform, which is expected to build a coordinated multi-currency system to replace the current US dollar-dominated system.

"Commenting on the currency issue, Zhou said: "US dollars will still play a major role in the world's monetary system. Meanwhile, the euro will exert its influence after it overcomes the current sovereign debt crisis, consolidating and improving the currency system in its zone."

He added that there would also be discussion on how to make the Chinese RMB a more international currency.

In addition, the forum will touch on subjects such as the widening wealth disparity, the credibility of philanthropic systems, equality in education and the assessment of labor costs among Asia's gradually aging population.

Zhou commented that all discussion topics are in line with the forum's ultimate goal of encouraging countries' development through regional cooperation and integration.

He concluded: "Whether it is in Asia or in the developed countries of America and Europe, history has told us that the coordinated development among the economy, society and culture is the prerequisite and basis for a sustainable future."

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