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Former Australian PM on Boao Forum


03-23-2017 14:10 BJT

Full coverage: 2017 Boao Forum

(Source: CGTN)

Former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke sat down with our correspondent, Greg Navarro to discuss to talk about the impact of the Boao Forum, this year's key issues, and the role it continues to play in bringing world and business leaders together.

Thank you very much for taking the time to talk with me today. Let’s talk about how all of this came about. How all of this evolved into what it is today.

"Very briefly, a Chinese businessman centred in Japan was building a resort in Hainan and he got in touch with me and asked me about the idea of did I think it could be combined with the development of an international forum like Davos - I said yes I didn’t see any reason why not. He had good connections with the Chinese leadership and asked me if I would be the first leader and I said no and thanked him for the honour. I said this is a Boao Forum for Asia and Australia is of Asia but we are not Asian and it would be quite inappropriate certainly at the beginning to have the first leader of it as a non-Asian, and he asked me who I thought and I thought of Ramos who had been president of the Philippines so we flew out there and Fidel was very keen and he accepted and did a marvellous job," Hawke said.

Former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke says he met with China’s leadership in the late 1990's about the prospect of forming an international forum.
"They saw it as a great idea and great opportunity for China to play a part in the economic cooperation and development of the region," Hawke said.

In what way do you think that it has become what you had hoped?

"Because I have to say the support of the government is very important. Other governments in the region and around the world have sent their Prime Ministers and heads of government there consistently so we have the status of political leadership and of economic business leadership. It’s become a forum where people almost feel it is a must go and it provides a great opportunity for meeting and mixing business opportunities and discussing issues which are going to affect business operations of people and of governments. It couldn’t have happened without absolute commitment of the Chinese government and they haven’t sought to dominate the forum. I don’t think any country that goes to the forum thinks it doesn’t get a fair opportunity to put its position," Hawke said.

Are there any topics you would like to see addressed this year and of course globally, we have seen a number of changes?

Well the topic this year is globalisation and international trade and it is very important that this be at the head of the agenda because the question has very much been put an issue as for a number of things by the emergence of the new president of the United States. He was sort of making the point that he doesn’t believe in the international treaties that were developed or are developing. I want to see the issue of global warming be a part of the agenda because I am profoundly concerned about this issue, I think it is a great threat. I think we are at an important potential turning point in history, we can either, as never before, improve the standard and quality of life of all mankind or we can destroy life of the span as we know it," Hawke said.

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