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BFA to Start Annual Conference in April

The Boao Forum for Asia (BFA)'s annual economics conference is to be held in Hainan from April 22-24 and will provide a venue for discussions on the major challenges facing the region, Long Yongtu, the forum's secretary-general, said yesterday.

"Keynote speakers will focus on the theme of 'The New Role of Asia.' They will provide insights on how Asia should face challenges in today's world," Long, China's former chief trade negotiator, told reporters in his office in Beijing.

"Speakers will also face up to major economic issues such as energy and we will not avoid sensitive issues such as co-operation in Northeast Asia," Long said.

The conference, the fourth one since the forum's establishment in 2001, will also offer an Asian perspective of the global economy. A roundtable meeting will be staged on the topic. Speakers include China's central bank chief Zhou Xiaochuan, World Trade Organization Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi and Henry Tang, Hong Kong's financial secretary.

Long said one of conference's highlights will be a plenary dedicated to Northeast Asia. Speakers at the session include Yoriko Kawaguchi, Japan's former foreign minister and now special assistant to Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi; Zheng Bijian, president of the China Reform Forum; and Chung Moon-Soo, presidential economic policy adviser of the Republic of Korea.

The three are expected to provide their analysis of Northeast Asia's problems, where the continent's three biggest economies are located. The area has been making headlines in recent years because of the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula and Japan's uneasy relations with its neighbours.

He said the forum included many topics that would interest business people because the forum is mainly about economic and business issues. There will be sessions on Sino-Australian co-operation in the energy sector, business opportunities in Asia's third-generation communications market, and China's real estate industry.

About 800 participants will attend the conference and 700 of them will be from the business world. About 60 global CEOs from multinationals and 40 chief executives for multinational companies' Asian operations will also be turning up.

Other participants that are expected to attract attention include Jia Qinglin, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference; Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's Minister Mentor; Donald Tsang, acting chief executive Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Kamal Kharazi, Iranian foreign minister.

(China Daily April 14, 2005)

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