BEIJING — The keynote speech delivered by Premier Li Keqiang at the opening ceremony of the 2016 annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) has put forth a new vision for promoting regional development and revitalizing Asia, overseas observers said on March 24.
It also shows China’s resolve to deal with challenges and could help restore public confidence in the global economic outlook, they added.
Premier Li gave the speech, titled “Asia’s New Future: New Dynamics and New Vision” on March 24 at BFA 2016’s opening ceremony in China’s southernmost island province of Hainan.
Building vibrant Asia
In his speech, Premier Li put forward a series of concrete proposals to promote Asian cooperation and development.
The Premier said that China is proposing an Asian financial cooperation association to optimize the regional financial market and avoid large-scale financial turbulence, and stands ready to link the “Belt and Road” Initiative with development plans of countries in Asia and regional organizations.
He also expressed the hope that Asia’s regional trade deal, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), can be reached within this year.
The proposals came at a time when Asia needs a new model of development to replace the outdated export- and investment-oriented economy, said Jin Jianmin, a senior fellow at Japan’s Fujitsu Research Institute.
China has called for deepening integrated regional development, conducting cooperation in infrastructure and other fields, and promoting interconnectivity, which could jointly bring about an expansion in trade due to improved communication, Jin said.
He noted that the e-commerce based on the Internet could promote innovation among small- and medium-sized enterprises.
Asia has tremendous potential for future development, since Asia has the capital and technology to realize self-innovation, he added.
Asian countries have established a number of bilateral trade agreements that have promoted regional development over the past five years, but a broader framework such as the RCEP which could link all the smaller ones would be better, said James Laurenceson, deputy director of the Australia-China Relations Institute at the University of Technology Sydney.
Laurenceson noted that with China and India being included, the RCEP will boast huge advantages given the two Asian giants’ capability of creating economic growth and trade opportunities.
The vitality of Asia could come from the Internet economy and innovation, in which China has made impressive achievements as a model for other countries, said Laurenceson.
Li Jianxiong, senior adviser at the China-ASEAN Business Council, hailed the “Belt and Road” Initiative, which, he said, has facilitated regional cooperation, infrastructure construction and integrated development.
The RCEP could be a strong supplement of the “Belt and Road” Initiative by enlarging cooperation, said the Premier.
China’s resolution enhances world confidence
While calling for closer cooperation among Asian countries, Premier Li identified China’s reform and opening-up drive, economic restructuring, improving people’s livelihood and people’s vitality and innovative capacity as China’s four reliable growth engines.
“Premier Li Keqiang has shown determination when tackling the challenges that the Chinese economy is facing as it shifts its growth model,” Dominique de Villepin, the former French prime minister, told Xinhua after the Premier’s speech.
China’s change is under way, which is evident in the growth of the sector of services and domestic consumption, said de Villepin, adding that innovation and large-scale investments in sustainable development listed in the 13th Five-Year Plan also reflect the change.
The growth of China, Europe and the world is closely linked, which is why China’s “Belt and Road” Initiative is so important, he said.
Premier Li’s speech boosts confidence in the Chinese economy, said Li Jianxiong, explaining that the Chinese economy will not “hard land” as feared by other countries. It is still growing at a relatively high speed as a big economic entity, he said.
China’s reform is systematic and step-by-step while the Chinese government has started dealing with problems in the economic transformation, which has already shown positive development, added Li Jianxiong.
China’s reform is heading in the right direction, especially by allowing the market to play a bigger role in resource distribution, said Yang Xian, dean of the National University of Singapore Business School.
Yakov Berger, senior researcher with the Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, hoped that China could carry out reforms and ensure a sustainable growth not only in the short term but also in the long run.