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Vice President Delivers Speech at Opening of Boao Forum

The following is the full text of the keynote speech delivered by Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong at the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Meeting 2006:

Seize New Opportunities in Asia and Work for a Better Future of the World

Dear Mr. Chairman, Dear Vice Chairmen, Members of the Board of Directors, Mr. Secretary General, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear friends,

In this lovely season, the 2006 Annual Meeting of the Boao Forum for Asia under the theme of "Asia Searching for Win-Win: New Opportunities for Asia" opens today at the picturesque Wanquan River. Let me extend, on behalf of the Chinese Government, a warm welcome to all of you.

Since its founding in 2001, the Boao Forum for Asia, committed to serving Asia and opening to the world, has closely followed and actively responded to regional and global issues. It has become an important platform for political, business and academic communities from countries and areas in Asia to conduct dialogue and exchange views, increase mutual understanding, expand mutual trust and promote regional cooperation. As the host, China will continue to support and provide facility to the Forum. We also hope that the Forum will continue to receive support from other countries and areas in Asia.

Asia is the home of all of us. Peace, stability and development in Asia are crucial to the well-being of the people in our region. We are heartened to see that just as the world today enjoys overall peace and stability, so Asia is in a relatively stable and peaceful period for development rarely seen in its history. We often say that Asia should seize an opportunity for win-win progress. Now we are faced with this important opportunity.

Thanks to the joint effort of the governments and peoples of Asian countries, Asia has registered an unprecedented sound momentum of development, marked by the unleashing of huge market potential, effective economic restructuring in various countries and areas, accelerating industrial upgrading and fast and sustained economic growth. This has made Asia one of the most dynamic regions in the world. This is another opportunity that Asia should seize to win-win progress.

The overall peace, stability and development in Asia have led to fast progress in the regional cooperation process. A new type of regional cooperation based on equality, diversity, openness and mutual benefit is taking shape. Various regional and sub-regional economic cooperation mechanisms have grown in strength, which include the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, Asia Cooperation Dialogue, those in East Asia and Central Asia, and multilateral and bilateral free trade arrangements. This is another opportunity that Asia should seize.

These positive and major developments have brought about both favorable conditions for regional cooperation and historical opportunities for the development of Asia. We should respect and treat each other as equals, seize the opportunities of development and hold our destiny in our own hands. As we do this, we will certainly achieve mutual benefit and win-win progress and promote development and rejuvenation of Asia.

The Boao Forum for Asia was founded five years ago when China began to implement its 10th Five-Year Plan. Five years later, when the Forum meets for its current session, China is beginning to implement the 11th Five-Year Guidelines. Over the past five years, China has steadily advanced its reform and opening-up program. It overcame the difficulties caused by the Asian financial crisis and prevailed over SARS and other natural disasters. It has overcome some destabilizing factors and risks in the economy and maintained fast yet steady economic growth. In 2005, China's GDP grew by 9.5 percent, topping US$2.2 trillion and averaging US$1,700 per person. This has paved the way for ensuring China's economic development in the coming five years.

The outlines of the national economic and social development plan for 2006-2010 were approved by the 10th National People's Congress at its recently-convened fourth session. In the next five years, China will pursue a scientific outlook on development and build a harmonious society that will advance the interests of all social groups in a balanced way. We will work for mutual benefit and common development in Asia and the rest of the world.

China's development is for its people. It is an endeavor by the Chinese people to advance and protect their fundamental interests. It aims to promote all-round and integrated process in economic, political, cultural and social fields. In pursuing development, China strives to achieve balanced growth in urban and rural areas, coastal and inland areas and economic and social fields. Following the basic state policies of resources conservation and environmental protection, China pursues the goal of sustainable development and of building a resource-conserving and environmental-friendly society. At the same time, we make sure that China's development is backed and driven by reform and opening-up and by innovation. China's development endeavor, both at present and in the future, will be guided by these concepts, approaches and measures for development which have developed in its reform, opening-up and modernization process over the past 20 years and more.

China pursues scientific, balanced and harmonious development domestically and peace, opening-up and cooperation externally. This is what China's peaceful development is about. As repeatedly pointed out by President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, China's pursuit of peaceful development is determined by China's national conditions, rooted in China's history, tradition and culture, and in keeping with the global trend of development. It is a right choice that meets the fundamental interests of the people in China and the world at large.

By firmly pursuing peaceful development, China is growing in strength. And this has created more opportunities to its neighbors and the whole world. Particularly since it joined the WTO, China had imported close to US$500 billion of goods annually, creating about 10 million jobs for other countries and regions concerned.

Statistics show that China's imports from Asian countries and areas totaled US$440 billion in 2005, up by 20 percent year on year, accounting for 67 percent of China's total imports.

Overseas investment by Chinese companies has increased by over 20 percent annually, with 80 percent of it made in Asia.

In 2005, 31 million overseas visits were made by Chinese. Asia is the top choice of a large number of Chinese tourists. All this has played and will continue to play an important role in promoting economic growth in Asia and the world.

As a large and responsible country, China is politically committed to building a harmonious world of enduring peace and common prosperity, a world of harmony maintaining each other's characteristics. We recognize that there is diversity in Asia and in the world, and that there is diversity in human cultures and the differences of interests. We seek harmonious coexistence in diversity and common development despite these differences.

China is a part of Asia. Asia's harmony and prosperity go hand in hand with China's peaceful development. We will continue to pursue the principle of building good relationship with neighbors and the policy of fostering a harmonious, secure and prosperous neighboring environment.

We will actively participate in Asian intra-regional cooperation, explore effective ways of achieving mutual benefit and win-win outcomes for all Asian countries and promote healthy development of regional cooperation.

We will continue to pursue a new security concept featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and cooperation. We will strengthen political dialogue among Asian countries on the basis of the UN Charter and the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence to enhance mutual trust, resolve disputes, narrow differences, expand common ground and promote peace, security and stability of the region.

China is the largest developing country, and Asia is the largest developing region. In the course of promoting peace and common development of the region, China will seek even closer mutual support and partnership with other Asian countries.

Cooperation in diversified forms is flourishing in Asia. To seek more opportunities and achieve mutual benefit and development for Asia, it is important that the governments and peoples in Asia make unremitting efforts in the following areas:

First, deepen mutually beneficial cooperation to promote common and sustainable development. With the acceleration of economic globalization, interests of countries have become increasingly inter-connected. No country can sustain its development in isolation from the common development of the region and the world.

With their economies being highly complementary in nature, the Asian countries enjoy broad prospects for cooperation in practical terms in finance, energy, transportation, agriculture, small- and medium-sized enterprises, cultural industries, information technology and public health. We should strengthen various regional cooperation mechanisms to enhance practical cooperation and achieve balanced economic development that benefits all countries in the region.

Second, uphold harmonious coexistence and respect and safeguard diversity in the region. Diversity of civilizations is a basic feature of human society and a fundamental driving force for human progress. Differences in social system, history and culture, and level and model of economic development among Asian countries have not and should not hinder our efforts to expand exchanges, increase common understanding and strengthen cooperation on the basis of respecting diversity.

We believe in the value of "harmony being the most important" and "harmony with individual characteristics". We believe that different civilizations should have exchanges and learn from each other and that people of different beliefs should respect and show tolerance to each other. By doing so, different countries and regions can draw on each other's strengths and coexist in peace and harmony.

Third, continue to be inclusive and open to the whole world. Asia's development and the global development are mutually reinforcing. While strengthening intra-regional cooperation, we should open further to the world and seek cooperation with the world. We should be open-minded and learn from the successes of other countries and regions and welcome their participation in Asia's peaceful development. As a Chinese saying goes, "The ocean is vast and deep because it admits all rivers." As we follow the trend of the world and be all-inclusive, we can certainly embark upon a path of regional development with Asian features suited to the conditions in Asia.

China's development is closely linked with the development of the rest of Asia. China's development will certainly contribute to the prosperity of Asia. China will stay firmly on the path of peaceful development, hold higher the banner of peace, development and cooperation, and work with other peoples in the region to create a better future of harmony and prosperity for Asia.

Thank you!

(Xinhua News Agency April 22, 2006)

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