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Special> Boao Forum for Asia 2013> Archive
UPDATED: April 9, 2012 NO. 15 APRIL 12, 2012
Seeking Internal Growth
Asian countries explore ways to achieve sustainable development at the Boao Forum for Asia
By Yu Lintao

To address the problem, Utsuda said that the free flow of people, goods, services and capital within Asian area would be helpful. Just as Vice Premier Li stressed in his speech, openness and inclusiveness work. It could also help to form a sound development model in the region, said Utsuda.

Chen Zhiwu, a professor from Yale University, claims that aging could also be an opportunity. For example, China could seize the chance to get over its over-dependence on the export market and to boost its domestic market since aging could produce large demand in the service sector.

Emerging Asian countries have accumulated a lot of wealth during the rapid growth of the past decades. But wealth inequality has become an obstacle to development.

Richard Boucher, Deputy Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said income and wealth inequality mostly hurts disadvantaged groups, who struggle to get good education and health care. Therefore, governments should address the problems through tax and legislation to guarantee the medical security, education and work rights and pension of the lower parts of society.

Fair distribution, equal access to medical care and education and opportunity for advancement for all people should be key policies that governments must emphasize, Abdullah Badawi, former Malaysian Prime Minister, said at the forum.

Qin Xiao, Boyuan Foundation Chairman, said wealth inequality is a global issue. In China, one of the important factors is that fiscal expenditure is too high, but the proportion spent on people's livelihoods is low.

Qin also said China should adjust its industrial policy. The government should give more support to the service industry, which could provide more job opportunities and improve income distribution.

Cooperation for a miracle

"Under the new circumstances, Asian countries need to further enhance their consultation and cooperation," said Vice Premier Li. "Openness and cooperation benefit all and lead to win-win progress," he said.

"Achievements and experience Asian economies got from past regional cooperation have laid a solid foundation for further cooperation in different areas in the post-crisis era," said Zeng.

Intra-Asian trade has accounted for over half of Asian countries' total foreign trade, allowing them to reap handsome dividends for development, said Li.

The pressure and challenge brought by the crisis might also become a new impetus for further cooperation among Asian economies, said Zeng.

Actually, current Asian economic integration is much lower than in developed areas such as Europe. There are still big developmental differences between Asian economies. Though regional and sub-regional cooperation mechanisms such as ASEAN and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation have laid some foundations, cooperation among Asian economies mainly focuses on trade and investment.

"There is still great potential for further cooperation among Asian countries," Zeng said. "Strengthening comprehensive economic cooperation within the region will be a wise choice to continue the 'Asian miracle' and achieve the sustainable development of all Asian economies."

Boao Forum for Asia

The Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2012 was held on April 1-3 in Boao, south China's Hainan Province.

More than 2,000 delegates and media personnel from around the world participated in the conference, including over 40 ministers from different countries and leaders from different international organizations, as well as world-renowned economists and entrepreneurs. One third of the guests to this year's forum came from the United States and European countries.

The theme for the 2012 conference was Asia in the Changing World: Moving toward Sound and Sustainable Development. Seminars were held on topics including identifying uncertainties and root causes of the debt crisis, employment and growth; pushing for reform and transformation through discussions on reforming the international monetary system and addressing income and wealth inequalities; seeking sustainable development through innovative thinking in life sciences, cloud computing, mobility and social media.

Aside from various sessions organized along these lines, the annual conference has as always offered face-to-face dialogues among young leaders, CEOs of multinational companies, overseas Chinese business leaders, CEOs from across the Taiwan Straits, private sector executives and women leaders.

Boao, originally a small town in Qionghai, Hainan Province, is now the permanent site of the Boao Forum for Asia. It covers an area of 86 square km and has a population of about 27,000 people. Since 2002, the Boao Forum for Asia has held its annual conference in Boao every April.

Email us at: yulintao@bjreview.com

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