Photo taken on April 17, 2021 shows the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) International Conference Center in Boao Town, South China's Hainan province. （Photo/Xinhua）
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), an increasingly influential platform that has witnessed China's opening up and integration with Asia and the global community.
The ongoing annual conference in Boao, a town in South China's Hainan province, has attracted 2,600 attendees, including government officials, entrepreneurs and scholars from over 60 countries and regions.
President Xi Jinping on Tuesday underscored the significance of the theme of the BFA annual conference 2021, which he said is convened against "a very special background."
The theme -- A World in Change: Join Hands to Strengthen Global Governance and Advance Belt and Road Cooperation -- is most opportune and relevant under the current circumstances, Xi said in a keynote speech delivered via video at the opening ceremony of the conference.
For the last 20 years, Chi Fulin, director of the Hainan-based China Institute for Reform and Development, has attended each annual conference.
"I have first-hand experience with the forum's growing influence and role. It has become an important international platform in China for Asia and the world," he said.
At the BFA annual conference in 2018, Xi announced a batch of opening-up measures, with the expectation that the country's opening-up efforts will benefit all enterprises and people in China and around the world as soon as possible.
The measures included significantly broadening market access, creating a more attractive investment environment, strengthening the protection of intellectual property rights and taking the initiative to expand imports, among others.
Faced with the economic downturn and the pandemic, participants have used the forum to engage in dialogues and identify new areas of collaboration.
China's recent opening-up measures, especially those in the financial sector, have created tremendous opportunities for multinationals to tap into, said Eddie Chen, head of China &Asia at Eurazeo, an investment company headquartered in France.
"One of the most exciting parts of doing business in China is that things are changing fast, and changes bring opportunities," he said, noting that the changes happening in China are positive ones.
The gathering of political leaders, entrepreneurs and experts has also transformed the once-obscure town of Boao.
Seeing opportunities brought by the forum, Jiang Xiang, a local resident, opened a bar by the seaside 10 years ago. "Without the BFA, I wouldn't have started my business because Boao town was very underdeveloped then, with little transportation and no industry," said Jiang, adding that the forum has attracted many people.
He said many people from various industries at home and abroad have come to meet and exchange, develop industries and travel in Boao. The bar has become a hotspot for tourists and received a large number of Chinese and foreign guests every year, especially during the conference.
"As long as there are people and there is opening up, there will be opportunities," Jiang said.