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Yunnan hosts fifth annual think tank forum

Li Yingqing and Song Mengxing
Updated: Jun 13,2017 7:13 PM     China Daily

Foreign attendees listen at the think tank forum, which started on June 12 and ends on June 13 in Yunnan province. [Provided To China Daily]

The fifth China-South and Southeast Asia Think Tank Forum, being held in Yunnan province, aims to increase cooperation among China and countries from South Asia and Southeast Asia, helping to achieve mutual benefits.

The two-day forum, which ends on June 13, is a means to implement new initiatives and measures proposed at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing in May, the think tank forum’s organizers said.

More than 300 experts and scholars from 14 countries and some international organizations have attended this year’s think tank forum, a record high in its history. The number of participating think tanks also increased, comprising more than 30 foreign and 40 domestic organizations.

He Zukun, head of the Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences, said that through dialogues and discussions at the forum, think tanks from China, South Asia and Southeast Asia are expected to further their practical cooperation against the backdrop of the Belt and Road Initiative.

He said the forum will give new impetus to promoting transport connections, trade cooperation and people-to-people communication among involved countries.

Gao Feng, vice-governor of Yunnan, gave several suggestions at the forum on how to deepen practical cooperation among China and countries in South Asia and Southeast Asia.

Gao said that they should strengthen dialogues to build more consensus, promote people-to-people communication and cooperation, and get advice from think tanks.

Shao Qiwei, former director of the China National Tourism Administration, said that the Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013, has made prominent achievements in the past four years.

Regional cooperation between China and South Asia and Southeast Asia has connected 20 Asian countries, involving nearly 20 million square kilometers and 3.6 billion people. This accounts for 41 percent of the countries, 45 percent of the land and 87 percent of the population of all Asia, respectively, Shao said.

Last year, China saw 10.33 million visits from Southeast Asian tourists and 1.16 million from South Asia, a year-on-year rise of 57.8 percent and 11 percent, respectively. In the same year, Southeast Asian countries saw 21.46 million visits from Chinese tourists, up 53.8 percent year-on-year, while South Asia received 930,000 arrivals of Chinese tourists, up 11.7 percent year-on-year.

Shao said the increasingly balanced flow of tourism brought practical benefits to local people in the region, and that the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road will continue to promote mutual prosperity and further understanding and trust.

The think tank forum has provided six topics for discussion, including construction of the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor, people-to-people exchanges and tourism cooperation, and economic, social and cultural communication among the cross-border ethnic groups between Yunnan and neighboring countries.

Organizers of the forum said this year they had received 93 papers from foreign and domestic officials, scholars and business representatives before the event started and expect to see more during the event.

Organizers of the 2017 forum include the Yunnan provincial government and the Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences, which was founded in 1980 and emphasizes the study of South Asia and Southeast Asia.

The event was previously called the China-South Asia Think Tank Forum and changed its name this year as it welcomed more active participation of Southeast Asian countries in the event.

Previous forums have increased mutual trust between China and countries from South Asia and Southeast Asia, promoted their transport connections, trade cooperation and policy communication, and helped to establish close cooperation and communication among think tanks from the countries, the organizers said.