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Fortune for all in new Asian century
By Liu Weiling and Hu Qihua (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-05-18 06:02

The photograph sums it up. Minister for the State Council Information Office Zhao Qizheng, flanked by Time Warner Inc's I. Peter Wolff (left) and Wal-Mart's John B. Menzer, yesterday gave the thumbs-up as an acknowledgement of the success at the on-going FORTUNE Global Forum in Beijing.

The theme of the forum is "China and the New Asian Century." But perhaps even the organizers might have been pleasantly surprised that the theme ended up as buzzwords at the event, which ends today.

Minister for the State Council Information Office Zhao Qizheng, flanked by Time Warner Inc's I. Peter Wolff (left) and Wal-Mart's John B. Menzer, gave the thumbs-up as an acknowledgement of the success at the on-going FORTUNE Global Forum in Beijing, May 17, 2005. [China Daily]

At the bustling Diaoyutai State Guest House where global business leaders - generously represented by top executives of the FORTUNE Global 500 companiestop officials and leading experts gathered, during speeches, at panel discussions and even tea breaks, the topics had common threadsthe new Asian era, the Asian auto industry, how to do business in Asia, corporate governance in Asia, China's rising status and its capital market.

If confirmation were needed that this centuryas predicted by manywould, indeed, be the Asian century, there it was in the participants' own words.

But the words can be translated into reality only if Asian nations strengthen co-operation as they seek common prosperity, Chinese Vice-Premier Zeng Peiyan told delegates to the forum yesterday.

"China and Asia have become the most energetic parts of the world economy, and we have seen strengthened co-operation in the region," Zeng saidbut added there remained huge potential for further co-operation thanks to the complementary characteristics of the region's economies.

Efforts should be made to strengthen economic and trade co-operation, expand mutual investments, co-ordinate utilization of natural resources, join hands to safeguard stability in the financial markets and establish a joint mechanism to ward off various risks, Zeng said.

"Regional and international co-operation should also be boosted by better utilizing appropriate organizations and forums," he added.

Participants echoed Zeng's view, highlighting the pivotal role Asia is playing in the world arena and the importance of co-operation in development.

"China and Asia are at a vital place on the world stage," said Richard Parsons, chairman and CEO of Time Warner.

"Asia can grow into the centre of the world economy in the 21st century if Asian nations can intensify co-operation in technical innovation and market exploration," said Samsung Electronics CEO Yun Jong-yong.

"Looking to the future, Asia has great potential," he said. "If we join hands, the future of Asia will be brighter."

Zeng pointed out that China's development has not only benefited its people, but has also brought about huge opportunities for the whole of Asia.

He said China's economy is on an upward momentum and will be able to achieve fast, sustainable development thanks to a readjustment of the consumption structure, huge market potential, rich labour resources, residents' high savings and improving economic systems.

"China's economy has entered a golden period of development," Zeng said, but cautioned that "we are still faced with difficulties such as a huge population and limited resources."

He said more efforts will be made to strengthen agriculture, ensuring the energy supply, protecting the environment, improving technical innovation and pushing forward market-oriented reforms.

"He covered a wide range of subjects that China's leadership should deal with such as people's living, environment and agriculture, which is very thoughtful," he said.

It wasn't such weighty topics, though, that took up the participants time yesterday. At the Temple of Heaven, where prayers used to be offered for good harvests in imperial times, a gala dinner under - thankfully - clear skies rounded up the day. More than 850 guests gathered for a grand banquet, the first of its kind in the modern history of the temple.

Lasers projected the ardent characters of "Beijing" and "FORTUNE" on the main building of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest. Besides the main building, two large logos of the forum shone on screens. There was an appreciation of Chinese culture when the original blue logo was for the first time changed to red, the "colour of China."

The significance of the forum was not lost on ordinary Chinese, among whom it has become a hot topic.

"The word 'fortune' has a deeper meaning for Chinese people now, I believe, and means not just earning money but also to do with spiritual life, such as culture," said Liu Jiali of Peking University who watched the live broadcast of the forum's opening on China Central Television at home.

"Beijing, and China in general, have more opportunities for people, in other words, to seek 'fortune' in various aspects," she said. "They (the participants) are leading business people in the world and their presence here will enrich Chinese people's thinking of the word fortune."

(China Daily 05/18/2005 page1)

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