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As Asia Seeks Common Prosperity, China Promises Opportunities for Neighbors

China Saturday expounded its commitment to Asian cooperation and economic integration and suggested its neighbors seize the opportunities arising from its 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 international forum on Asian development, which opened in China's southernmost island province of Hainan Saturday morning.


More than 1,000 senior statesmen, 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 an audience that included 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.


Hu's speech was titled "China's development is an opportunity for Asia." Robert Hawke, former Australian prime minister and one of the founders of the BFA, shared the same view with Hu. He told Xinhua Friday in an exclusive interview that China's development is "an opportunity, not a problem" for other nations.


With an average annual economic growth rate 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, mostly to destinations in other Asian countries and regions.


"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."


"Hu's words are very encouraging as he put the emphasis on cross-Asia cooperation, and China will play an important role in the field," commented Clay Wescott, principal regional cooperation specialist of the Asian Development Bank.


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.


Faroop Moin, an editor of the Pakistan Press International who had come along with the Pakistan prime minister, said that it is very important that China will cooperate with other regional countries and bring opportunities for all. "The policy of the Chinese government is in line with the needs of the international community," he added.


This was the fourth year in a row for the Boao Asian Forum to have China's head of state or government participate in its founding ceremony or annual conferences. While chairing the opening ceremony, 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 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 25, 2004)


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