I know. Business Circle has been reporting and editing on the content of quite a few China-involved major events such as the 40-anniversary of reform and open-up policies and the Two Sessions. Now it comes the BFA.
We are not trying to speak for China but as our long-decided mission, to introduce business opportunities in China to Australian investors and entrepreneurs. It just, happen to be another platform for businesses that we hate the idea of you missing out.
This month marks the one-year anniversary of Hainan FTZ, when BFA happens here, amazing economic consensuses (known as the ‘Asian Economic Integration’) did come across a few times.
Happy Birthday, Hainan FTZ!
China’s Hainan province, which hosted this year’s Boao Forum for Asia, was designated as China’s 12th free-trade zone by President Xi Jinping in April last year.
From last November to March 2019, it has attracted US$27.6 billion of investment in three batches, allocated to 378 construction projects, including infrastructure, a tax-free town and sewage treatment works, according to calculations based on reports from Xinhua.
Besides, Hainan signed contracts for a further US$42.4 billion to be executed in future. It came with an ambition to make the area operational by 2020, and reach a “mature” development stage in 2035. But one year on, how far has China’s southernmost province lived up to expectations?
Regarded as China’s “key gateway to the Pacific and Indian Oceans” covering 18 counties and cities, the zone has also signed 195 contracts with parties including international schools and theme parks, with a total investment of 285.9 billion yuan (US$42.4 billion).
“Hainan suffered a lot in the first 30 years as it was too eager for results, and as a result, it paid the price in the years to come. The State Council has urged Hainan to have a world-leading business environment in 2021, which will be a huge pressure for Hainan,” said Zhang Yansheng, senior researcher fellow at the Academic Committee of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).
As a part of the province’s universal exposure, the Boao Forum for Asia has been a platform for businesses and politicians to gather and discuss for solutions and vision for particular industries and even states. China, as the hosting country, play an tremendous role in the forum.
Premier Li Spoke on Economic Slowdown
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang tried to play down the slowdown in China’s economy. His remarks, given at the opening ceremony of the annual Boao Forum for Asia, run counter to some negative official economic figures, documented in consecutive data released by Beijing’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
“For the economic slowdown, China has already formulated relevant countermeasures. Since the beginning of this year, China’s economy has been steady and there have been some positive changes,” Li said.
“Recently, the market expectation has significantly improved. Data from the first two months show that major economic indicators such as employment, prices, international balance of payment have been steady.”
The premier’s speech coincided with the start of a fresh round of high-level trade negotiations between China and the US in Beijing as both sides work towards a deal to end their months-long tariff war.
Italy @ The Belt and Road
Interestingly, some non-Asian voices during the forum unexpectedly favoured China instead of their long-standing allies in Europe and America.
Michele Geraci, undersecretary of state at the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, said at least two other European countries were expected to follow Italy, which last week became the first G7 nation to sign a MOU on the transcontinental infrastructure initiative with China.
“All the other countries will follow Italy and sign an MOU, and I can give you two names, but I won’t – they are in the pipeline,” Geraci said at the Boao Forum for Asia in China’s southern Hainan province. “In reality, all European countries want to be part of the belt and road.”
Before Geraci’s speech, Italy has got an edge over other European nations by signing up first to China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” and it may be making some of them “jealous”.
Italy agreed to join the initiative while it hosted a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, despite warnings by the United States and some European countries that it risked being a debt trap with questionable infrastructure project standards. Previously, Washington branded ‘the belt and road’ scheme a ‘vanity project’. —Edited from South China Morning Post
The Voice from an Aussie Billionaire
“There’s been short term exploitation by politicians of the lack of understanding of China by most Australians, and of the Chinese heart by most Australians,” Australian billionaire miner Andrew Forrest said in an interview on the sidelines of the Boao Forum economic summit.
Mr Forrest said the “Chinese heart” was no different from that of many Australians.” They love their family, they love their country. They are happy to work hard and have a fair go.”
He said the Chinese “don’t go around invading other countries … We’ve got plenty of other examples of that and it isn’t China. They want to work hard and leave a better life for their kids. What does that sound like? It sounds like Australia.” Add to shortlist
Mr Forrest expressed at the forum that Australia was a part of Asia. He said politicians who exploit a lack of understanding about Asia were working against Australia’s interests. Immigration and racism have come to the fore in both the NSW state election earlier, and even in the federal poll.
Boao Forum for Asia, which is sponsored by Mr Forrest’s company—Fortescue Metals Group, is a major business conference that was co-founded by former Prime Minister Bob Hawke and his Philippines and Japanese counterparts around two decades ago.
Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is the forum’s chairman, and South Korea’s prime minister Lee Nak-yon attended the opening speech by Chinese premier Li Keqiang.
But the Australian presence has been scaled back as relations between China and Australia have become strained, particularly after the domestic political debate over “Chinese influence” that accompanied the Turnbull Government’s foreign interference laws last year.
Mr Forrest made his fortune through Fortescue Metals Group’s exports to China, sending 170 million tonnes of iron ore last financial year. He also said on Thursday that he was raising concerns with senior Chinese officials during his visit about the “moral dilemma” posed by artificial intelligence.
He said the world was “sleepwalking into an artificial intelligence regime that will be the most powerful invention we have ever made…….China is deeply conscious of the power of artificial intelligence and want zero harm to citizens. They’ve just been talking to the United States, but I am saying to the world, ‘Talk to each other’.”—Edited from The Sydney Morning Herald
Despite of Twiggy Forrest’s comments and Italy’s participation on the Belt and Road, Australia and the majority of European states at present still prefer not to be heavily involved in China’s extensive economic moves overseas. We have been maintaining a ‘frenemy’ position to our biggest trade partner and understanding the changes would take time to happen.