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Boao Forum to Discuss New Role of Asia

Participants of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference 2005, held between April 22 and 24 in Boao, a scenic town in south China's island province of Hainan, are expected to discuss the new role Asia can play in the world in the future.

Asia, which is home to 56 percent of the world's total population, has assumed an increasingly important role in the world over the past two decades, Professor Yin Zhongyi, deputy president of China Institute for Reform and Development, told Xinhua in an exclusive interview Thursday.

Currently, Asia's economy makes up around 20 percent of the world's total, Yin said, adding that East Asia is playing a role almost as important as North America or Europe.

He also called South Asia "an area with fast economic growth and good development prospects", and predicted that Asia would maintain a rapid economic growth in the next 10 to 15 years.

Asian countries are becoming increasingly dependent on each other as they share the interests generated from the region's economic expansion, said the professor.

Under such circumstances, people are more concerned about whether Asian countries can solve their internal problems, such as the historical and territorial disputes between China and Japan and Japan and the Republic of Korea, to realize the win-win goal set forth by the BFA, he said.

"If these problems cannot be solved in an appropriate way, the harmonious development of the region will be an empty talk," said Yin.

The reconstruction of the Asian countries hit by the unprecedented tsunami disaster at the end of 2004, in which some 300,000 people were killed, is expected to be another major issue of common concern during the three-day conference.

Political leaders and scholars from around the world will also focus their attention on the growing international influence of Asia and on the role for the Asian countries in major international organizations, such as the United Nations. They also want to know how Asia will act to help maintain order, peace and development of the world in the future.

Participants of the conference are also expected to discuss whether regional integration will help promote or negatively affect economic globalization.

Nearly 400 journalists from more than 100 Chinese and foreign news organizations will cover the BFA Annual Conference 2005.

As an open regional forum, the BFA mechanism was established four years ago. It has since attracted Asian high-level officials, businessmen and scholars, as well as elites from other parts of the world, to come to China every spring to discuss hot topics in regional and global economics and politics.

The first BFA annual conference was held in April 2002.

(Xinhua News Agency April 22, 2005)

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