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Forum: ‘Belt and Road’ to balance out Asia’s uneven development
Author :  Li Yu Source : Chinese Social Sciences Today 2016-06-13
The Shanghai Forum 2016 Annual Conference, under the theme “Economic Globalization and the Choice of Asia—Interconnectivity, Integration and Innovation: Building a Community of Common Destiny in Asia,” was held in Shanghai from May 28 to 30.
Scholars at an international forum concurred that China’s “Belt and Road” initiative will play a crucial role in the political and economic integration of Asia.
The Shanghai Forum 2016 Annual Conference, under the theme “Economic Globalization and the Choice of Asia—Interconnectivity, Integration and Innovation: Building a Community of Common Destiny in Asia,” was held in Shanghai from May 28 to 30. Hosted by Fudan University and the Korea Foundation for Advanced Studies, it gathered more than 700 representatives from academic, political and business communities at home and abroad.
Asian countries have reached a consensus to build a community of common destiny in Asia, scholars said. Some scholars pointed out that the best way for Asian nations to achieve common prosperity is by deepening economic and security cooperation and enhancing interpersonal exchanges within a regional community.
Home to more than 60 percent of the world’s population and accounting for more than 30 percent of the global economic aggregate, Asia has become the world’s most vibrant pole of growth on the heels of a long period of rapid development, said Wu Xinbo, executive dean of the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University. Asia’s status in the world economy is rising while the region is playing an increasingly active role in global politics and exerting a growing influence on international affairs, Wu said.
Some scholars noted that development is uneven throughout the region due to Asia’s vast geographical and cultural diversity. Kohara Masahiro, a professor of foreign policy at the University of Tokyo in Japan, said that the existing cooperation mechanism for the region should not be exclusive. Instead, all countries should seek inclusiveness and make themselves inclusive. Only in this way can all Asian members share benefits, he said.
“The Asian economy is vital to the recovery of the world economy, but the continent is developing in an imbalanced fashion,” said Quan Heng, deputy director of the Institute of World Economics at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. Emerging economies are growing fast while developed countries are reviving at a slow pace, and the wealth gap remains huge, he said.
The trade volume of Asia has grown rapidly while the quality of the regional economy has improved significantly. The “Belt and Road” initiative, as an opportunity for Asia, will hopefully advance the whole Asian economy and correct the imbalances, Quan said.
Salman Bashir, former foreign secretary of Pakistan, said that the rapid growth of the Chinese economy has propelled the development and integration of Asia. The “Belt and Road” initiative is an important manifestation and will have positive effects on global development in the 21st century, he said.
Bashir expressed optimism about the initiative’s role in Asian integration, saying it will foster better transportation and communication infrastructure. It will also help countries along the route to make progress in such fields as finance, science and technology, and agriculture, he said.