Aerial photo taken on March 23, 2018 shows the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Convention Center on Dongyu Island, Qionghai City of south China's Hainan Province. The 2018 BFA is scheduled for April 8-11 in Boao, a town in the southern Chinese island province of Hainan. (Xinhua/Yang Guanyu)
Originally a small fishing town little known to the outside world, Boao, in China's southern island province of Hainan, has earned a reputation as Asia's Davos for its annual Boao Forum for Asia.[Special coverage]
Chinese President Xi Jinping will deliver a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of this year's conference, a four-day event that started Sunday under the theme of "An Open and Innovative Asia for a World of Greater Prosperity."
Launched in 2001, the forum has always served as a platform to build Asian consensus, promote regional cooperation and advance the continent's influence on the world stage.
The word "Asia" has appeared 19 times in the themes of the forum's annual conferences from 2002 to 2018, illustrating a dedication to improving the continent's economic and social well-being. Other key words, including "win-win," "world" and "opening-up," also indicate an Asian approach to promoting world prosperity and an embrace of globalization.
NEXT PHASE OF GLOBALIZATION
The forum brings together leaders in government, business and academia to discuss the future role of Asia. The world is entering the next phase of globalization amid a rising tide of populism and protectionism in parts of the West, especially in President Donald Trump's United States.
The Trump administration's imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports as well as its threat of a trade war against China have ignited a worldwide firestorm of frustration and confusion.
WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo has warned of a potential "domino effect" in the wake of Washington's increasingly protectionist policies.
"Unilateral" announcements like those made by Trump tend to spark countermeasures, said Azevedo.
"Once you enter the path of reciprocal reprisals, you know when it begins, you know how it begins, but you don't know how or when you will be able to stop the process," Azevedo said.
"In light of recent announcements on trade policy measures, it is clear that we now see a much higher and real risk of triggering an escalation of trade barriers across the globe," he added.
"This process of action and reaction leads, sometimes, to trade wars that are not in anyone's interest, where there are only losers, since there are no winners in a trade war," he warned.
While some countries have been taking a step back from globalization, Asian countries, which have enjoyed rapid development over the past few decades, have always embraced rather than rejected globalization and free trade.
In particular, since the outbreak of the international financial crisis, Asia has served as a major engine for the recovery and growth of the world economy, contributing nearly half of global growth.
In recent years, Asia's outbound investment has been noticeably active. A large population and growing middle-income class in Asia have provided huge consumption opportunities and an investment market for the world at large.
For its part, China's contribution to global economic growth has exceeded 30 percent in the past five years.
WIDER DOORS TO CHINA
As 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up policy, this year's Boao forum is expected to review China's successful experience over the past four decades and explore new possibilities for China's growth.
"With some advanced economies turning inward, a successful reset of globalization may depend on whether China throws its considerable weight behind a new approach," the Chicago-based McKinsey Global Institute said in a report last year.