Asian countries can determine their own future as long as they work closely together in a community of shared interests, responsibilities and objectives. With Europe still in a debt crisis, and the U.S. recovery uninspiring, Asia's fate is in Asian hands.
A population of over 4 billion, some two thirds of the world's people, supplies Asia with an ample labor force. The continent now boasts one third of global gross domestic product, and remains a global growth engine, despite international financial volatility. To be masters of their own fate, Asian countries must now bring the full power of their resources into play.
Speaking on April 10 at the opening of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Asian countries needed to build a community of shared interests, common destiny and shared responsibilities.
"To sustain development momentum in new conditions, Asia needs to find a dynamic source of development to re-energize itself," Li said.
Regional integration and cooperation would doubtless support re-energizing, if countries allow their interests and destinies to merge. No single nation in the area can grow and prosper in isolation. Geographic proximity coupled with industrial synergy are a solid foundation for cooperation.
"With our interests closely intertwined, we Asian countries need to seek mutually beneficial cooperation where 'one plus one can make more than two' and even produce a multiplier effect in which 'two plus two makes more than four'," Li said in his Thursday speech.
Infrastructure paves the way for economic integration. According to Li, China is ready to draw up plans for a Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar economic corridor, and another between China and Pakistan, over and above the Silk Road economic belt and the 21st century maritime Silk Road. Plans are afoot to intensify consultation on the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and to upgrade the China-ASEAN free trade agreement.
"With a concerted effort, we can be sure that Asia will continue to be an important engine driving the global economy," Li said.