Boao Forum provides a prominent voice for Asia

By Xu Xin
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, April 13, 2011
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The 10th Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference will be held from April 14 to 16 in Boao, Hainan, China. The theme will be "Inclusive Development: Common Agenda & New Challenges." It is the first annual meeting after the re-election of the Board of Directors of BFA. Chinese President Hu Jintao will attend the opening ceremony of the forum for the third time.

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This year, the BFA will be held jointly with the third BRICS Leaders' Meeting. BRICS is a group acronym that refers to Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, which are all considered to be at the same stage of economic development. The adding of the emerging economies to the BFA is an important attempt to increase the importance and influence of the Forum. As the international financial crisis loosened the existing framework of international relations, developed countries face structural crises, and emerging powers stand poised to become the driving force of world development.

Since it was established in February 2001, the BFA has gone through ten years of significant history. As the only China-based non-government, non-profit international organization, it provides a platform for political, business and academia from different backgrounds, viewpoints and economic philosophies to exchange ideas on an equal basis.

Ten years ago, the Taiwan Commercial Times reported that the real purpose of the BFA is to "promote the development of Boao as well as its nearby waters – thus to enhance Hainan's economic growth. That projection now appears quite accurate as the BFA has done much to boost the development of Hainan Island, but its role goes beyond that.

The BFA has greatly enhanced the popularity of Boao and Hainan, and thus driven the rapid development and continuous upgrading of the local tourism and service industries. Since the establishment of the Forum, Boao has emerged quietly from a deserted fishing village into a city that hosts world-class exhibitions and conferences. Boao and Hainan's growth has received media attention that not only helps Hainan to gain extensive access to the most advanced concepts of development but also attracts investment.

In early 2010, a national strategy was implemented to build Hainan into a top international tourism destination. As the most convenient exit and entry port, Hainan gives visa exemptions to 26 countries, including South Korea, Germany and Russia. This year Hainan introduced a pilot tax refund policy that gives an 11-percent tax rebate for overseas tourists. The policy will no doubt attract more foreign tourists.

In addition to promoting Hainan's economic development, the BFA also provides a bridge of cross-Strait economic exchanges between the mainland and Taiwan. Taiwan representatives have attended all the previous forums, and each year its delegation has become more prominent. During the ninth BFA in 2007, President Hu Jintao met with Vincent Siew, who had been formally introduced as the Kuomintang party's vice "presidential" candidate in Taiwan. According to AFP, the meeting was the highest-level contact between the two sides since 1949.

During the BFA in 2009, a discussion on cross-Strait financial cooperation led to the eventual adoption of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) in 2010, which has become an important link for economics and trade. The agreement was made possible through the dedication on both sides to deepening cooperation, solidarity and mutual support.

The BFA is also an important platform for China to show its positive international image. In the previous meetings, Chinese leaders met with international leaders and expounded on China's political, economic and foreign policies and voiced their stand on the most pressing international issues.

After ten years, the BFA has evolved into an influential international economic forum that allows countries to pool the wisdom of the masses. The board has expanded to include members from around the world, such as former US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. World Economic Forum President Klaus Schwab believes that the high-level speakers, the complementing speeches and the novel themes are all advantages of the BFA, and that these advantages will make the BFA an open and effective regional organization.

Xu Xin is a university student in Department of History, Xiamen University.

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of

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