Toward an Asia-Pacific Community

Article excerpt

Byline: Fidel V. Ramos

(Speech of Former President FIDEL VALDEZ RAMOS, Chairman, Ramos Peace and Development Foundation (RPDEV) and the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), The Board of Directors Meeting, General Membership Meeting and 2nd Annual Conference of the BFA, International Convention Center, Boao, Hainan, China.)

ON behalf of the board of directors of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) and its members, I am pleased and honored to welcome you to this second of our yearly conferences on questions of vital interest to the Asian peoples and to their friends of Asia from around the world.

In Prime Minister Bob Hawkes felicitous phrase, the BFA is an association of Asia and friends of Asia established for Asia and focused on Asia to promote Asias interests in the region and in the world.

This forum was organized not to rival but to complement the work of other international think tanks with a similar purpose.

Our purposes are plain and straightforward.

BFA will help move Asian countries to act in concert to agree on how to develop our human, economic, social, cultural and natural resources and to speak with one voice in global forums.

Because our countries have all become linked inextricably through their economies, their political interests, and their security concerns and, of course, thru the power of information-communications technology the peoples of Asia have all become increasingly aware that we share a common fate and a common vision for a better future.

BFA will also encourage our countries to close the development gap between those Asian states that have matured or are growing rapidly and those set back by poverty and lack of economic opportunity.

BFAs usefulness

BFAs usefulness its value for our region and its impact on the future of our peoples will depend on the quality of the ideas it is able to generate and transform into action.

And this we try to assure, whatever be the problem, by striving to tap the finest minds in Asias immense talent pool of wisdom, experience, and creativity.

Can it become the building block of an eventually larger and more inclusive Asia-community?

All these are questions this second yearly Boao forum means to answer.

Meanwhile, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum which also met last month in Bangkok has set 2020 as its deadline for unifying economically both the western and eastern shores of the ocean our peoples share, hence, the instruments of an east Asian and the larger Asia-Pacific community have already been laid.

All the great powers with vital interests in the Asia-Pacific want stability and peace for the continent.

And we should use this conjunction of interest which the great powers have in a stable and prosperous Asia-Pacific, just as the European Union exploited the stalemate between American and Soviet power from 1949 until the late 1980s.

Over this past half century, Europe under the shield of American power has moved from beyond its civil wars to a single integrated community characterized by a common currency, virtual borderless trade, a customs union and, within the foreseeable future, an armed forces separate from NATO.

We, too, should use the relative condition of peace among the great powers to speed up the economic and political integration of east Asia and the Asia-Pacific. We must look beyond the armed peace imposed by the balance of power to the unforced peace of the balance of military mutual benefit.

And the ground has been laid for this effort in the network of regional organizations that bind our countries together. …