JERRY MUNTHALI Sanya
PRESIDENT Lungu and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni are the only African leaders among 15 heads of state and government invited to attend the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference 2015 which opens on Saturday.
According to Chinese news agency Xinhua, presidents of Armenia, Austria, Indonesia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Uganda and Zambia will attend the annual meeting.
The guests also include the Governor-General of Australia and prime ministers of Kazakhstan, Malaysia, The Netherlands, Qatar and Sweden, as well as Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov and Thailandâ€™s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tanasak Patimapragorn.
China hopes the BFA annual meeting will promote solidarity and cooperation among Asian nations as well as the regional integration process to achieve an all-win outcome.
The theme of this yearâ€™s BFA is: `Asiaâ€™s New Future: Towards a Community of Common Destinyâ€™.
According to Xinhua, the annual conference will witness more than 70 formal discussions on topics of macro-economy; industrial transformation; regional development, technological innovation, politics and security,; and peopleâ€™s livelihood, according to a Foreign Ministry spokesperson.
Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry vice-president Georgy Petrov said: â€œChina, India and other Asia-Pacific countries are the main engines of the global economy today.â€
MD Nalapat, an Indian strategic analyst, said without the development of Asia, it is impossible for China to develop and Asiaâ€™s progress needs China, which works for other Asian countries as well.
China hopes the meeting will also push for the joint construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which consists of a network of railways, highways and other forms of infrastructure, as well as oil and gas pipelines, power grids, internet networks and aviation routes in the Eurasian area.
Aimed at strengthening regional connectivity through the reinforcement of transport infrastructure, investment and trade, financial cooperation and cultural exchanges, the two initiatives are calling for the collective efforts of countries along the routes.
Under the framework of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road Initiatives, Asian countries could create newer and freer trade regimes and reach a closer interdependence within the community, which could be further facilitated by the financial support from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
International Monetary Fund (IMF) deputy managing director Zhu Min, former French Finance Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, Peopleâ€™s Bank of China Deputy Governor Yi Gang, World Bank Vice President Cyril Muller and Asian Development Bank Vice- President Stephen Groff will attend the event slated for March 26-29 in the scenic town of Boao in South Chinaâ€™s tropical island province of Hainan.
JERRY MUNTHALI Sanya