An official of the Boao Forum for Asia said that an arrangement should be made to connect the whole Asia, including a link between East Asia and Central Asia as well as South Asia.
Long Yongtu, secretary-general of the BFA, a non-governmental organization serving as a platform voicing for Asia's future, said that East Asia is currently the most active in regional economic cooperation.
Its economies are moving fastest, while it has incorporated itself into the ASEAN PLUS THREE (10+3) and APEC, two regional frameworks for political, economic and social cooperation between East and Southeast Asian countries and regions, Long said.
However, South Asia, Central Asia and West Asia have been forgotten in the entire Asian regional cooperation process, he said.
Long said that West Asia and South Asia used to be underdeveloped, but things are different now. India is rising, capital from West Asia is looking for opportunities elsewhere, and the Middle East has become an important source of energy supply to China, Japan and other Asian economies.
Long, former vice minister of foreign trade of China and chief negotiator for China's entry into the World Trade Organization, said that Asian countries outside East Asia are hoping to see an arrangement connecting the whole of Asia, while Australia and New Zealand are making efforts to "join" Asia and take a positive approach to the Asian economic integration.
Against such a backdrop, he said, Boao Forum for Asia, which is a dialogue channel for the whole Asia, wishes to play its unique role to fill in the vacuum.
According to Long, Pakistan, a member of the Boao forum, takes geographical and social advantages to serve as a key link between the Middle East and other parts of Asia. The country's economy is expanding rapidly, and its policy makers have in the past few years created an environment within which the private sector has begun to flourish.
To realize its potential to play a key role in the region, Pakistan is improving its social infrastructure, increasing development spending, and attracting more foreign investment, Long said.
The Boao Forum for Asia was established in 2001 to record and disseminate precious thoughts of Asian and global government leaders, scholars and entrepreneurs. This year's event is the sixth annual meeting for the forum, which runs from April 20 to 22.
The forum this year draws 1,300 well-known people from political, economic and social arenas around the world.
(Xinhua News Agency April 20, 2007)