Arroyo said she hopes that the forum will look back to the reform and opening up of China at the conference.
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China’s progress propels common development in Asia – Philippine House Speaker Arroyo
(The Philippine Star) - March 28, 2019 - 8:00am

MANILA (Xinhua) — China’s rapid development in the last 40 years has spurred common development in Asia, said Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a member of the Board of Directors of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) and Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Philippines.

Indeed, Arroyo, also a former Philippine president, told Xinhua in an exclusive interview on Monday before she attends the BFA 2019 annual conference that China has proven to be a good partner rather than a rival for the rest of developing Asia.

The 40-year cooperation between China and other Asian countries has brought tremendous progress, she said.

This year’s annual meeting of BFA, which opened on March 26 and closing on March 29 in Boao, a town in China’s southern island province of Hainan, has the theme of “Shared Future, Concerted Action, Common Development.”

Arroyo recalled that when China was beginning the reform and opening up 40 years ago, the rest of developing Asia like the Philippines wondered whether China would become a rival or a partner.

“But as it (China) progresses in the 40 years of reform and opening up, we began to realize that China is not a competitor. It was proven to be a partner in development, it’s a market for developing countries, a donor and a provider of capital and technology. That’s how the shared development has progressed,” Arroyo said.

The BFA annual conference 2019 focuses on openness, innovation and globalization.

Arroyo said she hopes that the forum will look back to the reform and opening up of China at the conference.

“Look at what happened to China 40 years since it started its reform and opening up. It has meted 800 million people out of poverty,” Arroyo said. “So, that is what reform and opening up did, that is what openness and globalization did to China.”

She said innovation and long-term vision of reform and opening up to the world are the keys to China’s most extraordinary development and transformation in the last 40 years. China has given importance to technology, she added.

During the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2018, China made a promise of furthering the opening up to the outside world.

“I believe in globalization and free trade. It’s very important that the leading countries in the world will champion globalization,” Arroyo said.

“Now if we look at the history, the world’s leading economy was the US, which saw its role to spearhead globalization and free trade. However, what happened is that there is now a new trend in the US—the Trump-style unilateralism and conservatism.

“That’s a new policy. China has correctly stated ‘we have to enhance reform and opening up.’ So, that’s very important that China is now taken up the cudgels for globalization through reforms and opening up,” she added.

The Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by China in 2013, aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe, Africa and beyond. Now, the initiative has won wide support across the world.

Arroyo said the Philippines is among the developing countries that will benefit from the Belt and Road Initiative.

“With the infrastructure Build, Build, Build program of President Rodrigo Duterte, the Belt and Road Initiative will be very important for the Philippines in the coming years,” Arroyo said, adding that “there’s no country in the world that matches the recent track record of China and capability in the area of infrastructure.”

“I’m really very impressed by the enthusiasm displayed by China and so we in the Philippines should match that enthusiasm on the implementation side,” Arroyo said.

Arroyo was elected as a member of the Board of Directors of the BFA. She spoke highly of the role that the BFA has played during the last 18 years.

Arroyo stressed the importance of the BFA to the world, especially to developing countries like the Philippines.

“The BFA gives an opportunity for the world’s leaders in business, politics, and society who are deeply involved in Asia to step back from their pressing issues of governance, of business and of society and look at the bigger issues. I think that is the use of the Boao forum,” Arroyo said.

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