2015 Boao Forum for Asia to Further Promote Regional Cooperation
By admin March 28, 2015

Blog W7
The 2015 Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference kicked off on March 26, 2015 in Boao, Hainan, China. Themed “Asia’s New Future: Toward a Community of Common Destiny,” the four-day conference attracts leaders from 15 countries including Uganda, Zambia, Austria, Netherlands, Sweden, as well as Russia.

It is estimated that over 5,000 people will attend this annual event. Founded 14 years ago, the Boao Forum has become an influential platform that brings Asian countries together and promotes regional economic integration. Before the forum on March 17, 2015, BFA Secretariat released three reports on Asian economic integration, Asian competitiveness and emerging industries development, providing insights to the current development situation and future outlook of Asia.

This year More than 70 formal discussion sessions will be held. Topics cover macro-economy, industrial transformation, regional development, technological innovation, politics and security, and livelihoods. This is the first year the meeting put agriculture, judiciary and religion on the agenda. There are also sessions that closely relate to current affairs such as new growth drivers amid the weak global economic recovery, China’s campaign against corruption and HIV, SARS, Ebola, smog and their impact on human health. However, the conference will still largely highlight China’s economy, particularly its two initiatives—One Belt One Road and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

“One Belt One Road” refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road proposed by Chinese president Xi Jinpin in 2013. Some observers believe “One Belt One Road” is only a geopolitical tool for China. However, as the growth of Asia slows down and the future for Asia’s economy becomes uncertain, it is necessary to rethink of regional integration and seek new opportunities for cooperation. Up to now the “One Belt One Road” initiative has gained support from nearly 60 countries linked by it. Zhou Wenzhong, secretary-general of the BFA, said the initiatives would promote regional and global economic exchange and development via cooperation.

As the deadline of joining Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) approaches, the establishment of AIIB will be another highlight of this year’s forum without doubt. South Korea’s Strategy and Finance Ministry announced on March 26, 2015 that the country would participate in the AIIB as one of its founding members. So far more than 30 countries have announced their intention to join the bank. South Korea is the latest US ally that expressed interest in seeking economic opportunities together with China. It is believed that the participation of western countries would bring a win-win result.

It’s not clear whether Asia will keep the same level of growth in the future given the various challenges ahead. Nevertheless, it’s clear that Asia will remain to be a very dynamic region with numerous opportunities. The Boao Forum will help not only Asian countries but also the rest of the world including western countries to find out a way to best utilize these opportunities. Just as Yang Xiyu, vice president of BFA Research Institute, said: “We hope to promote the consensus and voice of Asia. No matter how complicated our disputes are, our common interests and future cannot be divided.”

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