The Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) opened its third annual conference on Saturday morning in Hainan, China's southernmost island province.
President Hu Jintao delivered the opening ceremony keynote speech, entitled China's Development, Asia's Opportunity.
Hu said, "In the past few years, with the support of the fellowship of Asian countries and the larger international community, the BFA has developed steadily, playing an increasingly prominent role in regional cooperation and demonstrating to the rest of the world the fervent desire of the Asian people for a win-win scenario through closer cooperation."
"We are glad to see that Asia has, on the whole, enjoyed stability, with peace, development and cooperation becoming the mainstream of an advancing Asia. Through their concerted efforts, Asian countries have freed themselves from the shadow of the financial crisis and overcome the impact of SARS and bird flu. We have succeeded in domestic economic restructuring and quickened the tempo of industrial upgrading and transformation, promoted a robust regional cooperation, and increased the capacity to deal with potential risks. Asia retains its position as one of the world's most dynamic regions and a key growth point in global trade."
Hu said that his own country would expand and deepen its economic cooperation with other Asian countries. "In this regard, China is ready to develop comprehensive economic cooperation with fellow Asian countries, with emphasis on trade, investment, natural resources, information, pharmaceuticals, health services, environmental protection, transportation, science and technology, agriculture, poverty alleviation and development of human resources."
Former Philippine President Fidel Valdez Ramos expressed optimism and confidence in his address. "Within a relatively short period, and despite our political, religious, cultural and other diversities, the BFA has helped to forge a strong sense of community among our countries."
Ramos had high praise for the BFA's role in regional cooperation and economic issues. "In spite of modest resources, the BFA has moved quickly to the forefront of pressing regional concerns, especially the SARS epidemic, the revival of Asian tourism, the development of information technology, upgrading of the Asian education system, and globalization issues."
Dr. Helmut Panke, chairman of BMW AG's Board of Management, applauded Boao's win-win theme. "Both sides, countries as well as companies, will benefit from their cooperation and their openness. And both sides will bundle their strengths and know-how in such a manner that one plus one will not only result in two, but in three, four and even more."
"The level of participants this year is unprecedentedly high," said BFA Secretary-General Long Yongtu. Participants in the conference include Chinese President Hu Jintao, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Pakistani Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali, as well as ministerial-level officials from a number of countries and former Pan-Asian heads of states.
The BFA has also drawn numerous corporate leaders. Two-thirds of this year's participants are business leaders. The international business giants that have become the forum's sponsors include UPS of the US and Germany's Volkswagen.
The conference this year includes several seminars devoted to such hot topics as trade issue, Asian economic cooperation and integration, IT standards, the Asian supply chain and the possibility of a single Asian currency.
Long Yongtu reported that in the months to come, several other meetings will follow the conference so that the international discussions on these topics may continue. For example, the BFA will cooperate with other organizations and the Iranian government to hold a seminar on the Asian economy in June; an educational forum will take place in Beijing this August; and the World Tourism Conference will convene in Hangzhou. The BFA is also planning, together with the government of Shenzhen in Guangdong Province, to hold a logistics conference.
This year's BFA conference has also drawn the largest media representation ever. More than 400 journalists from around the world are covering the event, bringing the Asian forum to the attention of the wider world.
(China.org.cn by staff reporter Tang Fuchun April 24, 2004)