The Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference 2023, which took place in Boao, Hainan Province, on March 28-31, centered around the theme An Uncertain World: Solidarity and Cooperation for Development Amid Challenges. The conference drew approximately 2,000 attendees from over 50 countries and regions to seek pathways for development in the post-COVID-19 era.
In light of the turbulence that haunts today's world, humanity has come to a new crossroads. Now more than ever, the international community needs dialogue and exchange, as well as solidarity, cooperation, openness and inclusiveness to achieve mutual benefit. Given uncertainties in the current world economy and international landscape, this year's BFA annual conference attracted great attention. It demonstrated China's determination to advance high-level opening up as well as in promoting international cooperation and building consensus on development.
China is a crucial segment of the globalized economy. Just as China cannot develop in isolation from the world, the world needs China for its development. The country will remain resolute in opening up to the outside world, no matter how the international situation may change. China has applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a free trade agreement covering 11 Asia-Pacific economies that took effect in late 2018. The CPTPP is considered to have the highest standards for trade rules and market access.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of China's first pilot free trade zone (FTZ) in Shanghai. To date, 21 FTZs have been set up, serving as forerunners in the country's ongoing reform and opening up. Many new measures, such as the first negative list for foreign investment, which specifies areas off limits to foreign investors, were piloted in FTZs. Hainan Province, where the BFA annual conference is held, is building a free trade port with a higher level of trade liberalization, where most or all imports enjoy a tariff-free policy.
Discussions at the BFA annual conference indicated that despite regional conflicts and unilateralism, peace and development remain the mainstream. There is a strong consensus to uphold economic globalization and multilateralism. At this crucial juncture, the international community should champion solidarity over division and cooperation over decoupling so as to create a better future.