The 2021 annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) is a strong sign that business in China is returning to normal after the COVID-19 pandemic, Italian analysts said, seeing the event "fundamental" for European entities looking to do business in China.
First launched 20 years ago, the Boao event was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic. But it resumed this year with more than 2,000 in-person attendees -- making it the first major offline international forum held this year, according to Bloomberg. The theme of this year's event was "A World in Change: Join Hands to Strengthen Global Governance and Advance Belt and Road Cooperation."
The forum provides a platform for people outside Asia to understand China's economic vision, Stefano Sartorio, a China analyst with the Italian think tank Competere, told Xinhua.
"The Boao Forum is a place for an important exchange of economic views," said Sartorio. "The discussions at the forum are a key part of understanding about China's priorities in a fast-changing and increasingly politicized global economic system."
According to media reports, Italy was represented at the forum -- both in person and via video link -- with multiple participants including former Prime Ministers Romano Prodi and Enrico Letta, Governor of the Bank of Italy Ignazio Visco, economist Michele Geraci, former undersecretary of the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, and Italy's Ambassador to China Luca Ferrari.
Sartorio said Italian economic sectors sending representatives to the forum include the pharmaceutical industry, industrial entities, and Italian shipbuilding giant Fincantieri.
In a television interview, Geraci, professor at the University of Nottingham's campus in Ningbo, China, called the forum "a fundamental event" to help people understand "not only China and Asia but also the rest of the world."
Geraci referred to the event as an Asian version of the annual economic forum in Davos, Switzerland that was especially important in a world where "geopolitical attention and problems between governments (need) a platform for mutual understanding" that can help "overcome obstacles."