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China Promises Opportunities for Neighbors

China on Saturday expounded its commitment to Asian cooperation and economic integration and suggested that its neighbors seize the opportunities arising from the country's rapid economic growth.


"China's development cannot be achieved in isolation of Asia, and Asia's prosperity also needs China," said Chinese President Hu Jintao while addressing the annual conference of an influential international forum on Asian development, which opened in China's southernmost island province of Hainan Saturday morning.


More than 1,000 political VIPs, government ministers, business leaders and scholars from 35 countries and regions attended the 2004 annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), the third of its kind since the non-governmental forum's founding in 2001.


"A developing China generates important opportunities for Asia," Hu told the audience among whom there were not only Asian political leaders such as Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Pakistan Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali, but also dignitaries from outside Asia including Czech President Vaclav Klaus, former US President George Bush and former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo Ponce De Leon.


Having maintained an incredible average annual economic growth of 9.4 percent over the past two and a half decades, China is now the largest importer in Asia and its direct investment in the rest of Asia has been rising at an average annual rate of 20 percent in recent years. In 2003, over 20 million Chinese nationals traveled overseas, for whom other Asian countries and regions were leading destinations.


"China has, and will continue to make a positive impact on Asia in the area of development," said Hu. "With China's development, the size of its market and its overseas investment will grow even larger and still more Chinese will travel to the other parts of Asia for sightseeing, business and visit."


"China's economy will integrate still more closely with the Asian economy, giving rise to a new type of partnership characterized by mutual benefit, mutual complement and mutual assistance," he added.


With an increasing number of Asian countries and regions starting to realize the importance of bilateral, regional cooperation and economic integration to Asia's future development, the Boao Asian Forum has taken "Asia searching for win-win" as a permanent theme for its annual conferences.


The two-day BFA 2004 annual conference will host nearly 20 plenary sessions, roundtable meetings, concurrent sessions and luncheon sessions focusing on Asian cooperation, with main topics like "Post-Cancun multilateral trading system and Asian economic integration," "Asian IT industry and standards," "Energy: challenges and cooperation," "Supply chain and made in Asia" and "Asian cultural exchange and cooperation."


In his 20-minute speech, the Chinese president also outlined five steps China plans to take to strengthen its cooperation with Asian neighbors, namely, enhancing friendship and political trust and good-neighborliness; expanding and deepening bilateral economic cooperation; accelerating regional economic integration; promoting cultural interaction and personnel exchanges, and facilitating security dialogue and military-to-military exchanges.


This was the fourth year in a row for the Boao Asian Forum to have China's head of state or top government leader participate in its founding ceremony or annual conferences. Long Yongtu, secretary-general of the forum, thanked the Chinese leadership for their "great support to the forum all the time since its founding."


The steady development of the Boao forum has demonstrated the "fervent desire" of the Asian people for a win-win scenario through closer cooperation, said Hu in his speech.


The BFA has picked Boao, a picturesque small coastal town with only 20,000-strong residents, as the permanent venue for its annual full meetings, though each year it also hosts smaller-sized conferences, seminars and meetings in other places around Asia.


(Xinhua News Agency April 24, 2004)

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