Asia to be ‘bright spot’ despite bleak global economy, as China’s rapid rebound offers boost: Boao forum
China’s recovery provides major boost to region, world
Published: Mar 28, 2023 08:20 PM
Li Baodong (right), secretary-general of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), releases two annual reports at a press conference during the BFA's annual conference on March 28, 2023 in Boao, South China's Hainan Province. The conference, under the theme

Li Baodong (right), secretary-general of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), releases two annual reports at a press conference during the BFA's annual conference on March 28, 2023 in Boao, South China's Hainan Province. The conference, under the theme "An Uncertain World: Solidarity and Cooperation for Development amid Challenges," started the same day and will last until March 31. Photo: cnsphoto

The Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) said in a report on Tuesday that Asia's economy is expected to grow 4.5 percent in 2023 thanks to an accelerating pace of growth, which will be a "bright spot" in an otherwise bleak global economic landscape.

The BFA officially started its annual conference in Boao, South China's Hainan Province on Tuesday in the traditional in-person format for the first time since 2020. In a pair of annual reports, the BFA painted a rosy economic outlook for Asia and highlighted the "Asian moment" in global economic governance, while also warning of "massive challenges" for regional growth. 

In its annual report on Asia's economic outlook and integration, the BFA said the weighted real GDP growth rate of Asia in 2023 is likely to reach 4.5 percent, up from 4.2 percent in 2022, making the region a standout performer amid a global economic slowdown.

"In 2023, in the context of a global slowdown and the risk of increasing fragmentation of globalization, Asia is expected to accelerate its pace of economic growth, continue to advance regional production, trade, investment and financial integration and cohesion, and seize the 'Asian moment' for global economic governance," the report said. 

Sang Baichuan, dean of the Institute of International Economy at the University of International Business and Economics, who participated in the formulation of the report, said that the 4.5 percent growth forecast for Asia is much higher than international institutions' estimates for global growth of between 1.7 and 2.9 percent this year. 

"That shows the role of Asia's economy as a locomotive for the global economy," Sang told the Global Times on the sideline of a press conference for the launch of the report in Boao. 

The report showed that against the backdrop of significant changes and heightened turbulence in the world, "Asian countries tackle challenges head-on and have become a reliable growth engine for the world and an important supporting force for multilateralism," Li Baodong, secretary-general of the BFA, said at the press conference.

A separate BFA report on sustainable development on Tuesday warned of "massive development challenges", such as elevated inflation, natural disasters, supply chain disruptions, food and energy shortages and climate change, calling for multilateral cooperation and blended financing measures to tackle the challenges and fill development funding gaps across Asia.

"As for the forum, it is our consistent position to promote true multilateralism and open regionalism," Li said, adding the annual forum is aimed at finding certainty in an uncertain world and promoting solidarity and cooperation among countries to better deal with challenges.

The BFA Annual Conference 2023 will last from March 28 to 31 in Boao, where more than 2,000 delegates from 50 countries and regions will attend. As part of the conference, dozens of panel discussions will be held to focus on topics from economic development and geopolitical issues to regional integration and climate change. 

One highlight of the BFA meeting is China's rapid economic recovery and the country's continuous opening-up policies and efforts for promoting regional and global cooperation.

"The BFA has sent a clear signal to the world that China is ready to embrace the world with open arms in the post-pandemic era," Wang Huiyao, founder and president of Center for China and Globalization, a Chinese think tank, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

Wang, who is attending the forum, said he believes that the BFA can play a role in easing the current geopolitical tensions and show Asia's efforts to unite and revitalize the economy at a time when some countries want to "decouple" the world economy.

The BFA annual meeting, which started just a day after the conclusion of the China Development Forum (CDF) in Beijing on Monday, is the latest in a series of back-to-back bilateral and multilateral diplomatic activities in China since the two sessions in mid-March.

At the CDF, senior Chinese officials made clear China's commitment to a higher level of market opening, an improved business climate and multilateral cooperation, while global business leaders expressed confidence and commitment in China's economy. 

At the BFA meeting, Chinese officials are also widely expected to further highlight China's firm commitment and efforts to actively advance reform and opening-up and expand cooperation in Asia and around the world, participants at the meeting said. 

"China is actively seeking to expand cooperation with members of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership as well as other countries in the region," Sang said, noting that attempts to undermine China's development and Asia's economic integration through "non-economic means" will not succeed. "Though facing external shocks and rising uncertainty… cooperation among Asian economies should not be disrupted."