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Special> Boao Forum for Asia 2015> Exclusive
UPDATED: April 14, 2014 NO. 16 APRIL 17, 2014
Reaching Consensus to Asia-Pacific Prosperity
Is an Asian version of the EU possible? With China's help, it just may be
By Zhou Wenzhong

As Vice Chairman of the BFA Zeng Peiyan says, exchange and cooperation in planning for the development of infrastructure between Asia's individual economies should be strengthened, so that individual infrastructure development plans and regional infrastructure connectivity promotion targets are closely coordinated. Asian economies should hold the discussions and exchanges necessary to attain a shared vision with regard to cross-border, cross-regional and inter-basin infrastructure networking. This would mean that a consensus or plan could be shaped in accordance with different areas of specialization. Medium- and long-term planning and arrangements could then be set out accordingly for the respective economies, so as to promote free flows in the Asian region within economic, cultural and human spheres, by means of more open and effective infrastructural networks.

By increasing investment in infrastructure construction, expanding domestic demand and creating new economic growth points, we can also remedy the shortcomings in past rapid development. Infrastructural improvements will promote structural adjustment, and drive forward the rapid development of certain emerging industries. In this context, economic structural adjustment, stable economic growth and employment protection will all be more effectively addressed.

The BFA sets store by the value in this field. We have held a seminar in Bali, Indonesia, on connectivity and inclusive growth in the Asia-Pacific region, sharing opinions and showcasing thinking in different fields and at different levels.

Financing difficulty represents another bottleneck for infrastructure construction in Asia. The ADB has estimated that, in the decade from 2010 to 2020, Asia must invest $8 trillion in infrastructure construction overall if it is to maintain its current level of economic growth. It is thus clear that Asia's infrastructure has massive financing needs. To address this issue, Chinese President Xi Jinping said at the opening ceremony of the BFA Annual Conference 2013 that China will increase connectivity with its neighbors, actively explore the building of a regional financing platform, advance economic integration within the region and thus increase its competitiveness.

Underdeveloped infrastructure also presents enormous potential for the growth of emerging economies in Asia. In the past 30 years, China has made huge achievements in infrastructure, providing a valuable experience to other emerging economies in Asia. Increasingly powerful Chinese companies can also provide capital and technology for cooperation with other countries in infrastructure construction.

China proposes establishing an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and stands ready to offer financial support for infrastructure construction in developing countries in order to promote interconnectivity and economic integration in the region. The establishment of such an institution will, through a new regional platform for investment and fundraising, channel more funds into infrastructure, reduce capital flow out of Asia and ensure that capital is instead invested into Asia's vigor and growth. The bank will not only accelerate the development of Asian nations, but also stimulate global economic recovery.

Joint development

In the 21st century, economic globalization and regional development require mutual exchange and cooperation between Asian countries, and in turn, Asia also needs to enhance its cooperation with other regions of the world. How to cope with the challenges brought by economic globalization, to maintain sound development of the region and to strengthen mutual cooperation have become a topic jointly faced by various Asian nations.

It is beyond all doubt that the economic development of China and other Asian countries together with Asian integration are playing an increasingly important role in the global economic structure.

The year 2014 is a critical period for reform in Asian and emerging economies. China, Japan, India and Indonesia are all making vigorous efforts to advance their new reform agenda. Asian economic growth cannot look to impetus from the external economy as it has in the past, but must now primarily rely on domestic forces to achieve growth. To nurture such domestic forces, communications, cooperation and mutual support between Asian countries will be particularly important.

The BFA is the first international organization that is led by Asians and guided from the perspective of Asian interests and views. It can thus dedicate itself fully to the discussion of Asian issues and aim to enhance cooperation and exchanges among Asian countries, and between Asian countries and other parts of the world.

The BFA is committed to serving Asia and opening it to the world and has closely followed and actively responded to both regional and global issues. It has become an important platform for political, business and academic communities from countries and areas in Asia to conduct dialogue and exchange views, increase mutual understanding, expand mutual trust and promote regional cooperation.

Moreover, the forum has built another type of "expressway" in the Asia-Pacific and related regions—it gathers opinions, thoughts and wisdom and then employs them to guide particular economic behaviors.

The author is secretary general of the Boao Forum for Asia

Email us at: yanwei@bjreview.com

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