More than 20 years after China's opening to the outside world, a World Economic Forum official said the rest of the world's knowledge about China is disproportionate to China's increasingly significant role.
"As a friend of China, I don't see China as a threat (to other countries), but some people do. That's because they don't know much about China," said Frank-Jurgen Richter, the forum's Asia director.
Such lack of knowledge is reason enough to hold conferences like the forum's China Business Summit.
The annual summit is scheduled to open its 21th session on Thursday.
As the Chinese economy and society became increasingly sophisticated in the last two decades, so did the function of the summit, Richter said.
When the forum opened its first summit in 1981, 80 per cent of its participants were foreigners who came to hear speeches by Chinese Government officials. It was a rare opportunity to get official interpretations of policies.
They will hear not only voices of policy makers, but also those of think-tanks and entrepreneurs, which the Davos-based forum was originally designed for.
Chinese participants in the three-day summit include Zhou Xiaochuan, chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, economist Fan Gang and Edward Tian, president of China Netcom Corp.
Topics at this year's summit fall under the theme of Enabling a New Era of Changes and will be centred on industrial and financial changes in China as well as its evolving economic and political relations with its Asian neighbours and other major global players.
Richter said the summit's function as a window for Chinese business executives who value global perspective has been growing. In fact, 65 per cent of the 2002 summit's participants are from China.
Chinese entrepreneurs' enthusiasm for international business conferences surged after China hosted the 1999 Fortune Global Forum.
They found these conferences an ideal place to network and to listen to some of the most famous business leaders, both Chinese and foreign.
Foreign participants at this year's summit include CEOs from major international accounting and consulting firms and heads of some large IT companies such as Sun Microsystems.
As Chinese enterprises operating globally expand, Richter said, China's business community will bear increasing responsibility for fostering exchanges with other nations.
(China Daily April 18, 2002)