As CDF concludes, attention turns to Boao Forum, as China holds back-to-back meetings with foreign leaders, businesses
Published: Mar 25, 2024 11:25 PM
This photo taken on March 25, 2024 shows the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) International Conference Center in Boao, South China's Hainan Province, is ready for the upcoming forum. The BFA Annual Conference 2024 will be held from March 26 to 29 in Boao, focusing on how the international community can work together to deal with common challenges and shoulder their responsibilities. Photo: cnsphoto

This photo taken on March 25, 2024 shows the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) International Conference Center in Boao, South China's Hainan Province, is ready for the upcoming forum. The BFA Annual Conference 2024 will be held from March 26 to 29 in Boao, focusing on how the international community can work together to deal with common challenges and shoulder their responsibilities. Photo: cnsphoto

High-level Chinese officials on Monday met with heads of global organizations and business leaders as the China Development Forum (CDF) concluded in Beijing, reaffirming China's pursuit of high-quality development and high-level opening-up to create more opportunities for the world. 

With the conclusion of the CDF, global attention is now turning to the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), which is set to kick off its annual conference in Boao, South China's Hainan Province on Tuesday, with regional leaders, government officials, business executives and scholars from Asia and around the world expected to attend the forum, which is looking to promote unity and cooperation to tackle regional and global challenges. 

Both the CDF and the BFA provide a crucial window for countries and businesses in Asia and beyond to view China's economic outlook, opening-up measures as well as its plan to promote peace and development in Asia and around the world. And the back-to-back forums further underscored China's commitment to expanding high-level opening-up and its contribution to peace and development in the region and around the world, in contrast to the US' irresponsible attempt to create division and tension, experts noted.

On Monday, Chinese Premier Li Qiang met separately with Ajay Banga, president of the World Bank, and Kristalina Georgieva, managing director the IMF in Beijing, according to China Media Group. In the meeting with Banga, Li said China will continuously create a world-class business environment to share development opportunities with all countries. During the meeting with Georgieva, Li said that China has the confidence and capability to maintain continuous and sound economic development.

Also on Monday, Chinese Vice Premier Ding Xuexiang met with Masatsugu Asakawa, president of the Asian Development Bank, according to the Xinhua News Agency. 

Meanwhile, Chinese Vice President Han Zheng met separately with Darren Woods, executive chair and CEO of US-based Exxon Mobil Corp and Pascal Soriot, CEO of UK-based AstraZeneca on Monday. 

The heads of the multinational lenders and the executives of the two companies attended the CDF, which drew over 100 foreign guests, including dozens of multinational executives. Just a day after the CDF, the BFA annual meeting is set to kick off, with high-level officials and business leaders attending.

Zhao Leji, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, will attend the opening plenary of the BFA Annual Conference 2024 and deliver a keynote speech on Thursday, Lin Jian, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, announced on Monday.

Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Nauru's President David W.R. Adeang, Sri Lankan's Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit, and Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, president of the Supreme Privy Council to His Majesty the King of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization Daren Tang, and Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Mathias Cormann will also attend the BFA Annual Conference, the forum announced on Monday. 

On Monday, the media center for the BFA officially opened to reporters from around the world, indicating that Boao has finished setting the stage for the annual conference. Known as "China's Davos," Boao is the permanent home of the BFA, which was first launched to promote integration in the Asia Pacific and has risen to become an influential global forum, similar to the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort town of Davos.

"As an important economic exchange platform for Asia and even the world, the forum, which is held after China's two sessions and the China Development Forum, carries special significance," Wang Peng, an associate researcher at the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Monday, "it is not only an important window for China to display its development concepts and achievements, but also an important platform for executives and officials from various countries to exchange ideas and discuss cooperation."

Under the theme "Asia and the World: Common Challenges, Shared Responsibility," this year's annual conference hopes to bolster unity and cooperation, rebuild confidence and trust, and collectively foster peace and development, according to Li Baodong, secretary general of the BFA. 

Specifically, the BFA Annual Conference, which is scheduled to run from Tuesday to Friday, will focus on major topics such as China's economic outlook, Asia's development and cooperation, and the global geopolitical and economic outlook, according to the forum's agenda.

Highlighting the BFA's focus on emerging issues, this year's meeting will also include discussions on topics such as the rise of artificial intelligence and new-energy vehicles. Global challenges such as trade fragmentation and climate change will also be among the topics of discussion. The rise of the Global South and how it should jointly promote an orderly and equitable multipolar world will also be among the hot topics in Boao. 

Global significance

"Asia is an important pillar of world development, and it is a region with a high degree of concentration of countries in the Global South. Given such a background, the BFA is not just about Asia but the world," Miao Lu, cofounder and secretary-general of the nongovernment think tank Center for China and Globalization, who is attending the BFA, told the Global Times on Monday, noting that the BFA has become a platform for Asia to speak out on the global stage, calling for shared responsibilities to tackle challenges.

The BFA annual meeting comes as both Asia and the world at large face tremendous risks and challenges. In Asia, though its economic development continues to be a bright spot in the world, the US is stepping up efforts to sow division and tension by seeking to pit regional countries against China as part of its ill-conceived attempt to contain it. Meanwhile, the world faces geopolitical conflicts, an economic downturn as well as a climate crisis.

"As for some actions of the United States in Asia that attempt to hinder the process of Asian economic integration, I think this is irresponsible behavior," Wang said, noting that economic integration is an inevitable trend in global economic development and an important way for all countries to achieve common prosperity. "Any attempt to undermine this process is short-sighted and selfish and will not only harm the interests of the relevant countries but will also have a negative impact on the entire global economy."

In contrast, China's approach for win-win cooperation is gaining support among regional and global leaders, business executives and scholars, as evidenced by the high-level, widespread participation in the CDF and the BFA. 

In addition to high-level government officials, scores of multinational business executives are expected to attend the meeting. Top executives who are expected to attend the BFA include Robert Goldstein, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands, Christian Bruch, president and CEO of Siemens Energy AG, Pascal Soriot, CEO of AstraZeneca, and Yumi Harada, chairman of the Japan General Chamber of Commerce and president of Joyful.

"I just attended the CDF, where global CEOs, mainly US CEOs, generally showed full confidence in China's economy," Wang Yiwei, a professor at the School of International Relations at Renmin University of China who will also attend the BFA annual meeting, told the Global Times on Monday. "The BFA annual meeting is a seamless continuation of the CDF."

At the CDF, Chinese officials offered reassurance to global businesses about China's solid economic fundamentals and its commitment to opening-up, a message that will also be conveyed to Asia and the world through the BFA, experts noted. 

"I think the world has begun to deviate from the theme of peace and development. We have to return to this theme," Miao said, noting that against such a backdrop, China has been persistently promoting peace and development. "This is the manifestation of our major-country diplomacy."