BEIJING, May 16 (Xinhuanet) -- The 2005 Fortune Global Forum, a prestigious world business summit, opened Monday in Beijing with Chinese President Hu Jintao inviting global businesses to take full advantage of the fast-growing economy of China and Asia.
"China and Asia are quickly becoming a new growth engine for the world while the global boom is also generating more important opportunities for China and Asia," said Hu while addressing a grand opening ceremony of the forum in the Great Hall of the People, the seat of China's national legislature in central Beijing, on Monday evening.
"China's economic growth has brought and will continue to bring win-win opportunities to Asia and the World," Hu told the 800-strong audience, among whom were the CEOs of more than 80 of the world's top 500 businesses.
It was the third time in seven years for the high-profile business forum, initiated in 1995 by the US-based Fortune Magazine, to come to China, with the previous two hosted by Shanghai in 1999 and Hong Kong in 2001. No other country has played host to the forum more than once.
"We regard China as a respected and indispensable participant in the global economy...we have no doubt that its future development will be even faster and stronger," said Richard Parsons, chairman and CEO of Time Warner Inc. which owns Fortune Magazine, in his opening remarks at the Monday ceremony.
In a remarkable symbol of respect to the Chinese hosts, the forum has for the first time changed its traditional blue logo into a red one, or the "color of China." However, the organizers' original plan of holding the opening ceremony at Tiantan in southern Beijing, or the Temple of Heaven where ancient emperors prayed for national prosperity, was disrupted by rainy weather.
During the three-day forum, featuring the theme "China and the New Asian Century," participants are expected to exchange views on hot issues like corporate governance reform, intellectual property rights, capital markets, auto industry development, technical innovation, energy saving, and the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Most of the issues are closely connected with China.
"No company can succeed without tapping the potential of the Chinese and Asian markets," said an official with General Motors, whose CEO Rick Wagoner is also attending the forum. Troubled by poor sales recently, GM is trying to find a remedy at the forum to help revitalize the sluggish Asian vehicle market.
And China has made it clear that it wants to help. "China will keep opening up its market ... and work still harder to help foreign investors and create an even better environment for trade and economic cooperation...," pledged Hu in his speech.
Also showcasing the Chinese government's commitment was the fact that Premier Wen Jiabao and more than 20 of his cabinet ministers would attend the forum to give briefings on various aspects of the Chinese economy and explain their blueprints for the country's future growth.
The forum, widely publicized by the Chinese media, has also caused a stir among ordinary Chinese. "They have chosen the right place to hold it, as Beijing is China's center of policy-making," said Xiong Dachun, a clerk with a Beijing-based Sino-Japanese joint venture who watched the live broadcast of the forum's opening on China Central Television at home.
"So many successful business people have come. I hope such an important event will help bring more multinationals to China, which means better job opportunities and higher income for us," he added.
Just less than three decades ago, "fortune" was still one of the most unpopular words with the Chinese, who often linked the pursuit of money and wealth with "capitalism" and "exploitation." But the country's reform and opening-up drive, particularly the introduction of a "socialist market economy" since the 1990s, has changed everything, as now almost every Chinese knows and endorses Deng Xiaoping's famous slogan "It's glorious to be rich." Enditem