Boao 2016 Recharges Asian Economy
The 2016 session of Boao Forum for Asia focused especially on economic restructuring, regional economic interconnectivity and improving sci & tech innovation capacities.
THE 15th Boao Forum for Asia, convened in late March, was one of the first major diplomatic events China hosted this year. After years of development the event has built on its global reputation and is now more widely observed than ever before. The 2016 session is also deemed a run-up to the G20 Summit to be held in China’s Hangzhou City in September.
China values the Boao Forum as an opportunity to express its standpoint and make recommendations. Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered at the 2015 session a keynote speech titled “Towards a Community of Common Destiny and A New Future for Asia,” in which he called on Asian countries to foster a community of shared destiny, and elaborated on its guiding principles and China’s role in this mission.
The theme of the 2016 forum, Asia’s New Future: New Dynamics, New Vision, reprised the key phrase – New Future – of the previous two sessions. In continuing to explore paths to Asia’s future development, the 2016 forum focused specifically on economic restructuring, regional economic interconnectivity and collaboration, more investment in infrastructures, and improving sci & tech innovation capacities.
China, the largest economy in Asia and the biggest trade partner of most countries in the region, shapes the future of the Asian economy. The trend and policies of Chinese economy at the “new normal” (lower growth rate, higher quality) stage are therefore of broad concern in Asia and beyond. Meanwhile, the region’s geopolitical situation becomes trickier, as several disputes within it involve China. The Boao Forum offers China a much needed channel to speak out and explain itself to the rest of the continent and the world at large.
Fuel the Economy
The 2016 Boao Forum took place at a time when the outlook for Asian, including the Chinese, economy, appeared uncertain. This lent more weight to the event. China took this opportunity to address the concerns of its Asian peers and guide their expectations.
The two top economic issues Asia needed to address were:
First, where is the Chinese economy heading? The country’s 2015 GDP growth, at 6.9 percent, met its “around seven percent” target, but was undeniably the lowest since 1990. Inevitably there has been anxiety in the international community about prospects for the Chinese economy, as reflected in the outflow of a large quantity of foreign capital from the country, steep losses on the Chinese stock market, and fluctuation of the RMB exchange rate. All this bodes great uncertainty for the Chinese economy in the coming months, which in turn generates pessimism in the market.
Certain economists are convinced that the decline of Chinese growth is due to its shrinking labor force and rising labor costs as a consequence of an aging population. George Soros predicted in Davos last January that Asian currencies would weaken and that 2016 would be a difficult year for the market. The famed financier’s explicit placing of the blame for this on China exacerbated world consternation about the country’s economic stability and raised the questions: Is China’s real economy in trouble? And are China’s policymakers capable of gradually slowing down the country’s economic growth without sparking an economic crisis or social unrest?
The second issue concerns the world economic out-
The 18th ASEAN-China Summit is convened in the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center on November 21, 2015.