On the morning of June 1, the second day of the 7th Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity, the “Opening Ceremony: Keynote Speeches” was held in the Grand Ballroom of the Haevichi Hotel & Resort Jeju, in Seogwipo City.
After a dramatic drum and dance routine that is common before the more prestigious sessions during the Jeju Forum, Jeju Governor Woo Keun Min, East Asia Foundation Chairman Gong Ro Myung, South Korean Prime Minister Kim Hwang Sik, Kyrgyz Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Secretary General Lamberto Zannier, and former Australian Prime Minister Paul John Keating took to the stage to voice for the continued need of cooperation in the region to prevent territorial disputes, combat climate change, and usher a strong Asian region into the 21st century.
The 7th Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity, organized by the Jeju Peace Institute and hosted and sponsored by several organizations and corporations, began at 4 p.m on May 31. with the Special Session “Conversation with Steve Wozniak: The End of the PC Era and Future of the IT Industry.” A total of 58 sessions in the categories of prosperity, environment, peace, gender, education, and one titled etc. will be conducted from May 31 to June 2 at the Haevichi Hotel & Resort Jeju, Seogwipo City.
Under the theme of "New Trends and the Future of Asia," the 7th Jeju Forum will examine political and social issues affecting the area within a historical context to encourage cooperation and community building in the region. The forum will also afford the opportunity to simultaneously gauge the political and financial climate throughout the world to better understand Asia’s position within it. As this year marks the 20th anniversary since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Korea and China, there will be several sessions dedicated to the future of this union like “Korean Unification and China,” and “20 Years of Diplomatic Relations between Korea and China - Push Forward Strategic Cooperative Partnership.”
Hundreds of incumbent and former heads of state, experts, leading businessmen, academics, and activists including former Prime Minister of Australia Paul John Keating, former Prime Minister of Thailand Abhisit Vejjajiva, Chinese People’s Political Party Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee Member Xie Bo Yang, and Apple Inc. Co-founder Steve Wozniak will be on hand for the three-day event to discuss the future of Asia.
Some of the other topics to be addressed during this three-day conference include the future of the IT Industry, new growth engines for the region, the environment, financial cooperation, welfare expansion, and others.
Former Prime Minister of Thailand Abhisit Vejjajiva, who was expected to speak during the opening ceremony, was absent.
Governor Woo gave the ceremony’s opening remarks saying that “Jeju Island maybe just a small island, but I want to emphasize the commitment and passion of Jeju is anything but small.”
After hailing the island for its recent roles in hosting many important international political meetings, Woo said that this year the world will see many changes in power “causing hopes and concerns” within the region.
Woo emphasized some of the issues to be raised by Korea during the forum including the need for a denuclearize North Korea, the power supply shortages the nation expects to experience this summer and will only increase as Korea continues its economic growth, and IT can be a “stepping stone to overcome national barriers and trade barriers.”
He concluded his opening address saying “I hope that we can pull our wisdom and for the forum to be a pivotal platform for the changing world.”
Next to give his opening remarks was East Asia Foundation Chairman Gong Ro Myung who stressed importance of free trade agreements and economic dependence to “opening an era of codependence and prosperity.”
These agreements, like the one between Korea and the US and those currently being discussed between Korea, China, and Japan, “serve as a great opportunity to shed a light on the fast changing region.” This stabilizing of the Asia region, said Gong, will contribute to world peace.
The first keynote speech, and the reason for the heightened security for the session, was by South Korean Prime Minister Kim Hwang Sik.
“In the first decade of the 21st century Asia recorded an impressive annual economic growth of 9.4 percent on average. Since the global financial crisis of 2008 the region has been regarded as the growth engine of the global economy,” said Kim, adding that if things continue on this upward swing, by 2050 Asia will account for 50 percent of the global economy giving “and an Asia era will dawn.”
With this increase will come greater responsibilities that the region must be able to handle, he said.
The second change in the world Kim sees is that “voices are being raised to reform capitalism” around the globe and that the 2008 economic collapse “is a good example of the result that can be brought by excessive greed.”
Thirdly, he points to the need to address environmental concerns through renewable energy and can be used as for green growth.
The fourth change he see is that “the world is becoming one” through the every increasing presence of the internet throughout the world and this is an avenue that can help bind the region together through communication.
However, “trust must be built among nations” that have historical conflicts and that there are still territorial conflicts
“If we fail to overcome such conflicts and fail to achieve trust amongst ourselves the stability of prosperity and peace in East Asia will remain a pie in the sky,” he said.
The next to dignitary to take the podium was Kyrgyz Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov. Unfortunately the speech he delivered was lost on everyone in the crowd since no one was on hand to translate into either Korean or English.
From an English copy of his speech reporters were able to acquire before the session, Babanov said that sustainable development is only possible if there is peace that stems from one’s home life all the way to one’s nation.
Though a young country, and one that has experienced much strife and grief over the last decade with two civil wars, he said Kyrgyzstan has experience with peace-building as it was them “who brought forward the declaration of Central Asia as a zone free of nuclear weapons.”
He concluded by stating that “topics of diplomacy, economic integration, environmental protection, and education have now become of particular relevance.”
The second to final keynote speaker Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Secretary General Lamberto Zannier spoke of national security and how his organization, formed during the Cold War, has learned tools of bridging cultural and national differences.
Though the tools cannot be directly transferred, he said, they can possibly be adapted to fit certain situations, and that constant communication though may be “very painful, very frustrating,” is the way to come to a consensus.
The last speaker of the session, former Australian Prime Minister Paul John Keating, said that globalization has far exceeded the established plan.
“The absence of leadership in the West [after the end of the Cold War] and the failure to recognize the dispersal of global power ... has cost the West the opportunity of its hitherto unchallenged global leadership,” he said, highlighting that the world power is moving East.
And now, Keating said, how America reforms its economy, national strife, and social position “will determine whether America is in secular decline or whether it is able to balance off the accretion of global power in the East.”
With America being so important to the economy of the West, how it conducts relations with China will have significant impacts on Europe and the US economy.
Keating also emphasized the importance of America’s military position in Asia with its presence in Japan. Ultimately, “We want a region which allows China to participate but not dominate,” he said.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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