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China Shows Intent to Assume Leadership at Forum

Posted April. 20, 2009 07:53,   


“Asia is making its voice heard to a stronger extent by the West.”

The Boao Forum for Asia is often called the Asian version of the World Economic Forum, since the main purpose is to give Asia a stronger voice in the world economy.

Attention on Asia at this year’s forum has grown given the region’s emerging role as the savior in the global economic crisis. China has stepped up efforts to reform the financial system away from its heavy dependence on the U.S. dollar.

○ Power shift toward Asia

Under the theme "Asia: Managing Beyond Crisis," this year’s forum had leaders agreeing that many Asian countries have been severely affected by the global economic crisis and emphasizing Asia’s role in tackling challenges.

In the late 1990s, many Asian countries were forced to undergo Western-style restructuring in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis, which was largely blamed on an underdeveloped financial system. A different wind blew in this year’s forum, however.

Leaders renewed their recognition of the Asian way of development that emphasizes strong financial supervision and active government role in economic development.

In the opening address, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said, “To respond to the global economic crisis, Asia must lead the world in tackling challenges by joining forces and pursuing all-round cooperation.”

Long Yongtu, the forum’s secretary general, said, “This forum is an important stage for emerging economies to make their voices heard. They should actively speak out for building a new financial system.”

Former U.S. President George W. Bush made his first foreign visit after leaving office to deliver the forum’s dinner address Saturday. He said the center of the world economy is shifting to Asia, adding the U.S. must maintain and strengthen relations with Asian nations including China in times like this.

Without China’s involvement, the international community’s efforts to tackle the financial crisis will mean nothing, he said.

Wen said, “Former President Bush contributed to promoting China-U.S. relations over his term, and he is an old friend China will never forget.”

○ Proposal to revise dollar-led financial system

Chinese leaders including the premier, vice minister and Bank of China governor unanimously expressed Beijing’s strong commitment to leading global financial reform.

In his opening address, Wen stressed the need for building a diversified international monetary system.

Zeng Peiyan, vice chairman of the forum’s board of directors, said, “The world expects China to play a more significant role, but China alone cannot save the world from the financial crisis.” His comments indicated the international community’s high expectations for and dependence on China.

Bank of China Governor Zhou Xiaochun, who suggested a new global reserve currency system to replace the dollar at the G20 Summit, suggested a new financial institution to replace the International Monetary Fund.

“The IMF faced limits not only in addressing the consequences of the global financial crisis, but also in issuing advance warnings and diagnosing problems,” he said.

The forum opened Friday and ended yesterday.