Northeast Asia, comprising China, Japan, South and North Korea and Mongolia, represents the biggest source of economic growth potential in Asia, said former Pakistani President Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari, who chaired Sunday morning’s plenary session on the region’s economic cooperation at the annual Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) in Hainan Province.
About one-third of the world's population lives in East Asia, and its overall GDP increased fourfold in the past two decades. Naturally its economic development will have significant effects on Asia's global influence, said Yoriko Kawaguchi, special assistant to Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
The BFA's first annual report titled "Economic Integration in Asia," which was released Friday, revealed that East Asian intraregional trade grew even more rapidly than its global trade, and on a global basis its share of intraregional trade tripled to 6.5 percent from 1985 to 2001.
Asia has become the new growth engine of the world economy. While assisting neighboring countries' economic development by doing business and offering investment, Kawaguchi admitted that Japan itself also benefited substantially from the region's economic growth, especially for its own economic recovery. This is the embodiment of the BFA's permanent theme, "Asia Searching for Win-Win," she said.
She proposed establishing an East Asian community. Japan, as Asia's biggest economic body, plays its proper role in the community's establishment.
Kawaguchi, also former Japanese foreign minister, said Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi held a meeting with President Hu Jintao in Jakarta Saturday. In their closed-door talks, Koizumi stressed the importance of the development of Sino-Japanese friendship, saying that it is not only beneficial to China and Japan, but also has great influence in Asia and the international community.
China’s rapid development is an opportunity rather than a threat to Japan and this has been gradually accepted by more and more Japanese people, he reportedly said.
Kawaguchi promised that Japan will look honestly at its history and try its best to win neighboring countries' political trust so that it can make full use of opportunities brought about by the region's rapid economic growth.
China's peaceful rise will not happen overnight, said Zheng Bijian, chairman of the China Reform Forum.
In the first half of the 21st century, the country expects to face three fundamental challenges in the area of economic and social growth: the shortage of resources, especially energy; environmental deterioration; and a series of issues in coordinating social and economic development, he said.
These challenges have all contributed to a bottleneck in the nation's sustainable development. He said that in response, China should blaze a new path of industrialization characterized by high-technology input, economic efficiency, low consumption of resources and low environmental pollution, and continue to participate in economic globalization and build a harmonious society.
An important result of China's peaceful rise is the emergence of a huge market with a population of 1.3 to 1.5 billion. "Therefore, what China's peaceful rise will mean to Asia and the world is opportunities rather than threat," he said.
Along with the rapid advancement of globalization, regionalization is also expanding, which presents both opportunities and challenges, said Chung Moon-soo, economic policy advisor to South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun.
The financial crisis in 1997 put "Asian value" at question, he said. However, having overcome the crisis, a new Asian era is emerging once again.
Chung urged all Asian countries to enhance regional economic cooperation, which will contribute to promoting regional economic growth and stability while putting Asia on equal footing with other regional economies such as the EU and NAFTA.
For this reason, Asian countries should expedite their long-overdue free trade area (FTA) negotiations, he said.
Chung also emphasized that mutual understanding and trust are an important prerequisite for Asia to achieve regional economic cooperation and regional peace and prosperity.
"If the leaders of Germany and France had not overcome their past history through conscious and sincere efforts, it would have been impossible to make the European economic integration as successful as it is today," he said.
Nonetheless, with leadership that fails to win the trust of neighboring countries, Asia is still living under the shadow of its past history, he said.
Only after expressing deep and honest contrition for the wrongdoings of the past and subsequent reconciliation can real economic integration and development be achieved, he said.
(China.org.cn by staff reporter Shao Da, April 24, 2005)