MANILA -- China's rise as an economic power is seen to bring prosperity to other developing countries in the region, according to one of the key founders of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA).
"China's strategic reach has been growing. It (China) is cutting deals worldwide to tie down foreign materials and investment opportunities," said Fidel V. Ramos, former Philippine president and BFA chairman.
This is the message that Ramos will bring when he attends this week's BFA.
Ramos will be among the more than 1,000 government and business leaders who will be traveling to the Chinese resort city of Boao to attend the annual forum that has been hailed as the Asian equivalent of the World Economic Forum in Davos.
The Boao forum, now on its tenth year and will be held April 14 to 16, is recognized as a premier intellectual resource center. Its delegates most of whom came from various Asian countries lend an Asian perspective to the global dialogue on various issues including climate change, free and fair trade and control of avian flu.
Ramos, who was one of the founders of BFA and served as its chairman for eight years, noted that one of the major gains of Boao Forum is to forge a "sense of community" despite political, religious and cultural diversities in the region.
This year's forum will focus on "inclusive development."
"Inclusive growth means to prosper your neighbor," Ramos told Xinhua in an inteview. "Nobody should be excluded from development," he added, noting that expanding trade and investments in the region should help reducing poverty incidence.
China's investments and its emergence as a major export market for Asia-Pacific countries has made it a "growth engine" in the region, Ramos said.
The manufacturing boom fueled China's growth and its expanding domestic industries and infrastructure boosted demand for metals, farm produce and electronics. With its economy valued at nearly 6 trillion U.S. dollars, China has surpassed Japan as the world's second-largest economy behind the US.
This is why China has a crucial role to play in promoting prosperity in the region.
For Ramos, convening the Boao Forum is in line with China's thrust to promote "East Asian identity" through regional integration.
This is important, Ramos stressed, as in the next ten years, "we may expect regional integration to become the global norm."
Ramos said that the failure of the World Trade Organization to open up global trade has created the need to form regional blocs. He forecasts that this will be a major diplomatic activity in the next few years.
Ramos said that increased trade alone won't bring prosperity. Peace and stability needs to be maintained to boost investment and encourage businesses. But there is a need for "burden sharing" to ensure "enduring peace," Ramos said.