Solidarity and cooperation key to Asia's rise in dominance, says Anwar at Hainan forum

Photo: Bernama

HAINAN (China): Asia will emerge stronger and more resilient if it continues to cooperate, speak in a unified voice and exchange ideas on strategy and best policy practices, says Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Speaking at the annual Boao Forum for Asia in this southern Chinese island province, the Prime Minister said Asia should work closely together in a spirit of cooperation and solidarity, strive towards reducing inequality, promote social justice and enhance standards of living for all.

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"Translating lofty ideals into practical reality, solidarity and cooperation is best exemplified in the realisation of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

"With the pandemic (Covid-19) behind us, we should try to regain its momentum," he said when addressing the forum.

Also present at the four-day conference themed "An Uncertain World: Solidarity and Cooperation for Development Amid Challenges" was Chinese premier Li Qiang, BFA secretary-general Li Baodong and International Monetary Fund's Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva.

Other leaders who also addessed the BFA include Singapore' Lee Hsien Loong, Spain's Pedro Sanchez and Ivory Coast's Patrick Jerome Achi.

Also present was BFA secretary-general Li Baodong.

China's BRI, coined in 2013 by President Xi Jinping, was a strategy that seeks to connect Asia with Africa and Europe via land and maritime networks to improve regional integration, increase trade and stimulate economic growth.

As of March 2020, the number of countries that have joined the BRI total 138.

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The BFA, a 29-nation forum, was established in 2001 to promote economic integration across Asia and help build a community with a shared future by facilitating dialogue and exchanges between China and other nations.

Anwar thanked the Chinese government and BFA for inviting him to attend and address the forum.

He also congratulated Li Qiang on his appointment as Premier of the State Council, adding that he was happy to attend the event as it coincided with the 10th anniversary of the elevation of the Malaysia-China Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

The BFA theme, Anwar said, was also apt and relevant given the extraordinary ebb and flow of the state of geopolitics and power as well as geoeconomics which we now lived in.

Anwar also explained his unity government's Malaysia Madani concept which was built on six core values namely sustainability, prosperity, innovation, respect, trust and compassion and how Asia could achieve solidarity and cooperation amid challenges.

"First, we should focus on values that unite us as a human family, not those which divide us.

"Ethics, sincerity and integrity in dealings with partners in bilateral and multilateral situations should be paramount," he said.

Secondly, Anwar said, while competition is good, there are times when cooperation is even better.

"While geo-economic competition in the past was focused on commodities and resources, the current race is about cutting-edge technology as demonstrated for example in the competition in the semiconductor industry," he said, adding that the rivalry to be ahead in this can take either a productive or a destructive turn.

He said Asia also needs to establish certain guardrails to ensure competition did not lead to a bifurcation in the technological world as this would only raise costs and impede further progress.

Technological competition, he said, should also be one of the principal agenda items for discussion at the highest levels and similar to discourses on security and general economic matters.

"Thirdly, as we talk of uncertainties in relation among nations, geopolitical conflicts and economic rivalry, let us not forget the ordinary citizen with the burden of having to put food on the table and the tangible and pressing uncertainties faced," he said, adding that wages and the purchasing power of households have been “dented considerably” due to Covid-19 and global inflation.

Earlier in the morning, Anwar held bilateral talks with his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong who also addressed the BFA.

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