Against the background of the 10th anniversary of the devastating Asian financial crisis, this year's Boao Forum for Asia reminded us of the necessity of closer Asian cooperation in dealing with such crises.
More important, the annual forum showcases the great opportunities and challenges Asian countries face in achieving economic integration on the road to assuming a greater role in the world economy.
With "Asia winning in today's global economy: innovation and sustainable development" as its theme, the forum, held over the weekend, addressed the evolution of the Asian economy and the challenges of energy security and environmental issues.
It is high time for regional leaders to chart the future course of Asian development since these are all key issues for societies across the region and beyond.
A decade after the financial crisis that swept across the region, Asian economies have resumed their role as the global engine for growth.
Asia's gross domestic product has grown by more than 6 percent annually in the past seven years, contributing to 20 percent of the world economic growth.
The region's increasing power and potential are also reflected in the fact that Asia's economy, trade and foreign exchange reserves currently account for, respectively, one-fourth, one-third and three-fourths of the world's total.
Sustained development in individual Asian countries has led to increasingly closer economic links within the region, expanding common interests and heightening awareness of the Asian identity.
In fact, development and cooperation in Asia are enjoying unprecedented momentum.
However, in spite of strong economic growth among Asian nations, the region is worried about how to achieve sustainable development in the face of pollution and the shortage of energy resources.
That is why Chinese leaders called the Asian nations together. The goal is nothing short of a new strategy for industrialization which is driven by the high-tech sector, efficient in resources, environmentally friendly and fully tapping the region's human resources.
Admittedly, different levels of development and other differences among economies in the region mean Asian integration will not be realized any time soon.
But joint efforts can make a big difference in achieving shared prosperity for the region through successful economic integration.
(China Daily April 23, 2007)