Go to contents

[Opinion] Boao Forum

Posted April. 23, 2007 04:33,   


Hainan Island, called the “Hawaii of China,” is a place popular among Korean golfers, but few are aware of the fact that the Tomb of Hairui is located in the city of Haikou on the island. The tomb is for Hairui (1514-1587), a native of the island and great statesman who was deprived of his government post after criticizing the misgovernment of Emperor Jiajing of the Ming Dynasty. It was during the Cultural Revolution that his name became known even better.

The Cultural Revolution began in 1965, about 400 years after Hairui’s death, when Yao Wenyuan—then serving as Communist Party secretary—denounced “Hairui Baguan” (Hairui was deposed), a historical play by Wu Han, the then-vice mayor of Beijing. He accused the book of ostensibly being a piece of historical fiction actually vindicating Peng Dehuai, a former defense minister who was dismissed due to his criticism of the Great Leap Forward of Mao Zedong. With the outbreak of the Cultural Revolution, the Tomb of Hairui was violated, and Hainan Island was attacked by supporters of the Cultural Revolution, chanting, “Down with capitalists.”

The island, however, is emerging as a new icon of China in the 21st Century—largely because of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA). Boao is a resort city that is around one and a half hour’s distance from Haikou Airport. Originally, the forum was an Asian version of the Davos Forum which, with an aim of discussing ways to overcome the Asian financial crisis, was proposed in 1998 by Fidel Ramos, former president of the Philippines, Bob Hawke, former prime minister of Australia, and Hosokawa Morihiro, former prime minister of Japan. However, China, which then was seeking to join the World Trade Organization (WTO), made the city of Boao the permanent venue for the BFA Forum by attracting the first meeting of the Forum there in 2001.

The theme of the sixth Boao Forum, which came to a close yesterday, was “Asia Winning in Today`s Global Economy - Innovation and Sustainable Development.” Referring to the significance of Southwest and Central Asia, BFA Secretary-General Long Yongtu asserted, “We should connect all of Asia.” Does his remark imply a reorganization of Asia into a “Grand Chinese Economic Bloc”? The theme of the 2004 BFA Forum was China’s “peaceful rise.” Maybe Hairui’s Hainan Island will become the outpost of China’s “Beijing Consensus” as opposed to the so-called “Washington Consensus,” representing U.S.-led globalization.

Kim Chang-hyuk, Editorial Writer, chang@donga.com