China’s contribution to regional, global devt in focus at Boao Forum
Published: Mar 27, 2023 11:22 PM
Boao Forum for Asia. Photo: VCG

Boao Forum for Asia. Photo: VCG

Chinese Premier Li Qiang will attend the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference 2023 and deliver a keynote speech in South China's Hainan Province on Thursday, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning announced on Monday, marking Li's first address at the major Asian forum after becoming the Chinese Premier earlier this month. 

The BFA annual meeting will kick off in Boao, Hainan on Tuesday, as China continues to follow a busy diplomatic agenda that has been marked by a series of back-to-back bilateral and multilateral activities after the two sessions in mid-March.  

Coming just a day after the conclusion of the China Development Forum (CDF) in Beijing, which brought a long list of global business leaders and scholars to China for the first time since COVID-19, the BFA meeting will also bring together senior government officials, including several heads of state, business leaders and scholars from around the world for face-to-face exchanges.

Topping the agenda are discussions on how to preserve and promote regional economic integration as well as global peace and cooperation, as both Asia and the world are facing mounting economic and geopolitical risks and challenges amid an increasingly reckless, protectionist and confrontational diplomatic agenda spearheaded by Washington and some of its allies. 

At the BFA, which has also become a crucial window into China's major economic and diplomatic policies, top Chinese officials, after recent major breakthroughs such as the China-brokered Saudi Arabia-Iran deal, are expected to further drive home China's major country diplomacy that focuses on peace and development, as opposed to the US' relentless focus on ideological and geopolitical confrontation, observers noted. 

Many in the region and around the world are also expecting China to see strong economic recovery this year and hoping its continued market opening to provide desperately needed impetus for a troubled global economy. China is expected to contribute to one-third of global GDP growth this year, according to some global organizations.

Rising global profile

The BAF Annual Conference 2023 will be held from March 28 to 31 in Boao, under the theme "An Uncertain World: Solidarity and Cooperation for Development amid Challenges." Offline meetings will fully resume at this year's conference for the first time since the outbreak of COVID-19, according to the organizer, another vivid testament to China's swift recovery from the epidemic in recent months.

In Boao, a previously small town that has been turned into a major convention center of global significance, the "BFA vibe" is palpable, with scores of domestic and foreign journalists arriving in the city and signs of the annual meeting and its theme seen everywhere from the airport to the streets. 

First established by China and 25 other regional countries in 2000, which eyed an Asian forum on par with the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the BAF has grown into a major cooperation platform not just for Asia but also the world, drawing top officials as well as business and civil society leaders from around the globe.

Underscoring its rising global profile, this year, several heads of state from Asia, Europe and Africa and leaders from international organizations are expected to attend the BAF annual meeting. Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Malaysia's Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, Prime Minister of Cote d'Ivoire Patrick Achi and Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Kristalina Georgieva will also attend the meeting, Mao announced. 

Moreover, more than 2,000 delegates from 50 countries and regions will be in attendance, including dozens of ministerial level officials and former heads of state, with many expecting fruitful discussions at this crucial forum at such a critical period, according to the organizer.   

"My expectations in Boao are always high. It's a very important forum, not only for Asia but also the world," Alessandro Golombiewski Teixeira, a former Brazilian minister of tourism and former special economic advisor to the president of Brazil, told the Global Times on Monday.

Teixeira said that in an era of global uncertainty and challenges, he believes that Asian countries are coming together to find common solutions not just for the region but also the world. "The world was very European centric, American centric and now I think people realize how important is Asia, especially in the last two decades how important is Asia for the world economy," he said.

The BFA's focus on not just Asia but also the world at large is also reflected in its agenda for the annual meeting this year. The BFA meeting will focus on four topics - "Development and Inclusiveness," "Efficiency and Security," "Regional and Global" and "The Present and the Future" - which seek to find ways for development amid the post-COVID era and deepen cooperation in the international community.

"The BFA is an Asian platform, but is indeed globally oriented, because addressing regional challenges also means addressing global challenges," Bai Ming, deputy director of the international market research institute at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the Global Times on Monday.

China's leadership

The rise of the BFA's global profile also highlights China's growing leadership in both regional and global affairs, analysts noted. A crucial part of the BFA meeting is major policy addresses by top Chinese officials. This year, in particular, China's diplomatic and economic policies have drawn a great deal of attention around the world, as the world's second-largest economy is undergoing rapid recovery and is widely expected to be the biggest contributor to global growth. 

During a speech at the CDF on Sunday, Georgieva, the IMF chief, said that thanks to China's robust rebound, the country is set to contribute around one third of global growth in 2023. "And beyond the direct contribution to global growth, our analysis shows that a 1 percentage point increase in GDP growth in China leads to a 0.3 percentage point increase in growth in other Asian economies, on average - a welcome boost," Georgieva said.

"China is the second-largest economy in the world, [growth target of around] 5 percent is very high compared to European countries and the US, which are not growing at all or are growing only 1 percent," Teixeira said. 

At the BFA meeting, Chinese officials will highlight China's solid efforts and firm support for its own high-level opening-up, regional economic integration as well as economic globalization, according to Bai. "As the concrete progress of building the Hainan Free Trade Port shows, China's opening-up will only expand," he said. 

Various Chinese development plans and initiatives, including Chinese modernization, the Belt and Road Initiative as well as the Global Security Initiative, which was proposed at the BFA annual meeting last year, are among the hot topics for discussion. 

Beyond economic contributions, Chinese diplomatic solutions for tackling various global geopolitical challenges are also expected to be highlighted at the BFA annual meeting, including China's recent diplomatic breakthroughs such as the China-brokered Saudi Arabia-Iran deal and the peace plan for the Ukraine crisis, analysts noted.