Fri, April 17, 2009
China > China & World > Boao Forum for Asia 2009

Leaders to seek "Asian value" to tackle financial crisis at Boao Forum for Asia

2009-04-17 09:25:06 GMT2009-04-17 17:25:06 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

BOAO, Hainan, April 17 (Xinhua) -- Although Asian leaders lost a chance to discuss a prescription for the financial crisis at the ruined ASEAN summit in Thailand, the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) is expected to offer a platform for them to seek the "Asian value" in tackling the worst global economic turmoil in seven decades.

At the G20 London summit two weeks ago, voices of the emerging economies were heard by the developed countries on an unprecedented scale. However, that was far from enough.

As another international convention focusing on financial crisis after the G20 summit, the BFA's Annual Conference 2009 held from Friday to Sunday in Boao, a scenic town in south China's Hainan Province, will be a good place for emerging Asian economies to better voice their views, said BFA Secretary-General Long Yongtu.

With the theme of "Asia: Managing Beyond Crisis", the three-day session is expected to showcase the role of emerging countries in reshaping the global financial system, because their presence can not be ignored and their role in the world economy becomes increasingly important, said Long.

The U.S. financial system used to be a model for Asian countries after weak financial regulation and collaboration threw them into a regional financial crisis in 1997.

Ten years on, however, the United States itself became the birthplace of a major crisis, which underpinned the importance of reflecting on past decisions and explore its own way to deal with the turmoil by Asian countries rather than simply coping others, analysts say.

PLATFORM FOR VOICES OF ASIA

Asia used to be the growth engine of the world's economy, but it could not escape a series of economic woe as the global financial turmoil slashed exports, closed factories and exacerbated unemployment.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) predicted that the average growth in developing Asia would slow almost by half to 3.4 percent in 2009, the worst decline since 1998.

"The global financial crisis is paramount on everyone's minds," said Long. "As such, it is more important than ever before the Asian leaders and business executives come together to exchange ideas and come up with innovative solutions on the issues that matter most," he said.

More than 1,600 political leaders, business people, and academic scholars from across the globe will discuss and debate the impact of the crisis on Asia and how the region weathers the challenges effectively, according to the organizer.

Delegates will discuss how the emerging countries should play their part in reshaping the global financial system, and seek a balance between financial regulation and innovation. They will also discuss solutions to expand foreign trade and investment, and measures to cope with the volatile commodity prices.

The leaders, including Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, will speak at the opening ceremony of the forum on Saturday.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Fukuda Yasuo and former Chinese Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan will deliver keynote speeches on world economic outlook at the opening luncheon on Saturday.

On Saturday evening, former U.S. President George W. Bush will address the forum and discuss his time in office and outlook for the future. It will be his first appearance in Asia after he left the Oval Office in January.

In the meantime, more than 800 business people will attend the conference. The biggest lineup includes senior executives from the world's leading banks such as the Bank of America and Merrill Lynch, to the world's top IT companies including Google and Netease.

The organizers said the BFA and ADB will jointly launch a report assessing the progress of regional cooperation in Asia amid the global crisis.

The report, or Boao Forum for Asia Annual Report on Progress of Regional Cooperation in Asia amidst the Global Financial Crisis, will evaluate the effects of the crisis on emerging Asia and the responses adopted by governments.

"It will also suggests policy options for addressing the crisis in the contexts of regional cooperation," the organizers said.

CHINA'S ROLE CRITICAL

This year's conference is notably eye-catching is also because the world are looking to more answers given by China to the crisis. Although China has stressed that the world should reassess its power before naming it a savior, many countries pin hopes on the recovery of the world's third largest economy.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will deliver a keynote speech at the opening ceremony on Saturday. His remarks will be much anticipated after a series of economic data indicated positive changes in the Chinese economy.

Premier Wen said at a Cabinet executive meeting on Thursday that the government's stimulus moves had begun to produce results and the economy was in "better-than-expected" shape, although the growth domestic production grew just 6.1 percent in the first quarter, the slowest pace in a decade.

The premier cited pick-ups in investment, consumption and industrial output, ample liquidity in the banking system, and improved market expectations as signs of those "positive changes."

"However, we must also be clear-headed and understand that grounds for the country's economic recovery are not solid enough yet, as circumstances both at home and abroad remain grim," Wen warned.

In such a context, the presence of major Chinese officials including central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan, commerce minister Chen Deming, and banking regulator Liu Mingkang at this year's BFA meeting deserves great attention, as people expect to read more between the lines to better track the economic outlook.

DIVERSIFIED TOPICS AND VALUE OF CULTURE

Although discussions about financial crisis and emerging economies take up more than one third of the topics, traditional themes such as green development and Internet innovation are also on the agenda.

The forum will for the first time add contemporary art and creative industry into the topic list, underlining Asia's resolution to explore new growth areas amid the economic restructuring.

"The crisis will generate more artistic imagination," said Wang Jian, an established cellist, referring to the value of culture in this region. He said that America and European countries still lack understanding of the profound and magnificent cultural tradition of China.

The unique culture in East Asia has been a main factor that turns the region into a global production and manufacturing base, according to Chen Zhiwu, a professor of Yela University. "Mass production could be well organized through 'iron discipline'. East Asian and Southeast Asian societies, which are significantly influenced by the obedient culture of Confucian, might have accepted the concept of regarding people as screws in production organizations," he said.

However, the huge consumption potential of Asia is hard to realize due to many factors including an immature democracy system, he said, suggesting that the reform of the mechanisms of economy, politics and culture be accelerated.

BFA was established in 2001 as a platform for high-level interaction between leaders from Asia and around the world. It is aimed at promoting the development goals of Asian countries through greater regional economic integration.

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