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Fortune for all in Asia's century
[ 2005-05-18 00:49:30]

The picture 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.

At the bustling Diaoyutai State Guest House where global business leaders -- generously represented by top executives of the FORTUNE Global 500 companies -- top officials and leading experts gathered, during speeches, at panel discussions and even tea breaks, the topics had a common thread--the 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 century--as predicted by many--would, 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.

"China and Asia have become the most energetic parts of the world economy, and we have seen strengthened co-operation in the region," Zeng said--but 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 investment, 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.

He also noted that amid the rapid pace of globalization, the international community should also forge closer ties in fields such as trade, investment and the corporate sector.

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 Asia's 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 also has brought about huge opportunities to 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," he 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 strengthening agriculture, ensuring energy supply, protecting the environment, improving technical innovation, and pushing forward market-oriented reforms.

Zeng also invited participating multinationals to increase their investment in China and Asia.

Parsons said Zeng's speech was "inspiring."

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