The Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) is a non-profit organization that hosts high-level forums for leaders from government, business and academia in Asia. The forum is modeled on World Economic Forum where pressing issues of this region and the world are discussed. The forum is held in Boao, a town located in China’s southern Hainan province. The BFA was founded by 26 Asian and Australian stated on 27th February 2001 and the first meeting was held in April 2002. The forum over the years has discussed issues like the Southeast Asia’s economic crisis during 1990’s or China’s peaceful rise.
Speaking at the inaugural session of the BFA, President Xi Jinping said that China is committed to opening its economy and urged dialogue rather than confrontation. He termed cold war mentality and zero-sum game obsolete and emphasized peaceful development for achieving win-win results. He pledged to take steps to lessen barriers to world trade and also to strengthen intellectual property rights. He stated that trade openness would bring progress while closure would lead to backwardness.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Foreign Minister, Khawaja Asif, Inteior Minister, Ahsan Iqbal, and Minister for Power Awais Leghari represented Pakistan at the forum. Prime Minister Abbasi while addressing the opening ceremony of economic forum at BFA said that China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is an exquisite example of mutual cooperation. He lauded China’s Belt and Road Initiative and said that regional connectivity, open trade and increased economic growth were the key to promote tolerance and deny space to extremism. While talking to Chinese media on the sidelines of the forum he maintained that CPEC is the most visible part of the BRI. He expressed satisfaction with CPEC projects which would help alleviate energy crisis and will boost infrastructure development.
President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi met on the sidelines of the BFA. President Xi while speaking to PM Abbasi ensured timely completion of projects under CPEC and termed Sino-Pak relations as model for good-neighborly relationship and international cooperation. PM Abbasi, for his part, termed the two countries ‘iron friends’ who always support each other.
Interior Minister of Pakistan, Ahsan Iqbal was a speaker at the CEO’s Forum at BFA where he said that CPEC has become one of the top regional cooperation projects in the world which will connect Asia to the rest of the world. He said that people are already reaping benefits of the project. There is nation-wide consensus on CPEC and is perfectly in line with Pakistan Vision 2025, added the Minister.
Other attendees include Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Mongolian Prime Minister Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh, Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde. The leaders discussed bilateral, multilateral practical cooperation, global governance, economy and trade at large.