Forum provides rare opportunity for high-level dialogue, increased multilateralism
A top-level international forum attended by incumbent and former world leaders has taken a stand for multilateralism at a time of rising unilateralism and protectionism in the international community.
At the 2019 Imperial Springs International Forum, running from Sunday to Monday in Guangzhou, over 260 former heads of state or government, leaders of international organizations, academic experts and business leaders discussed the renewal and reform of the existing multilateral structures and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“The international community should actively defend multilateralism, support the United Nations and its central role in the multilateral system and take effective, joint measures to enhance and strengthen global partnerships,” says the final statement of the forum.
The statement recognizes the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative as a cooperative arrangement to advance infrastructure and enhance global interconnectivity and calls for practical action to ensure an inclusive and interactive system of global governance, promote peace and security and advance development and balanced prosperity.
Making its debut in 2014, the Imperial Springs International Forum brings together top leaders and practitioners to promote understanding and cooperation through conversations on governance, economy and culture. It is a joint effort by the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, the Australia China Friendship and Exchange Association, the Guangdong provincial government and the World Leadership Alliance Club de Madrid.
The forum has won rising recognition and support from China and abroad, made possible by its high-profile attendees, extensive agenda and unique style.
As of the 2018 edition, the annual event had been graced by more than 600 former heads of state or government, leaders of international organizations, scholars and business executives. They shared their wisdom at the event and walked away with something new, said Chau Chak Wing, founder of the forum, at a China Newsweek interview. Though a young initiative, the forum has enjoyed a growing global influence and reputation, and is shaping up as a new platform for China to communicate and interact with the world at the highest level.
The forum follows the latest trends with an extensive list of up-to-date topics. The 2015 and 2016 editions delved into the Belt and Road Initiative to explore the potential areas of cooperation arising from the new global initiative. The 2017 session looked at the challenges and opportunities in global governance and China’s perspectives on a number of issues. In 2018, the fortieth year since China launched its reform and opening-up policy, delegates shared insights into win-win cooperation and China’s new round of opening-up measures. Former Tianjin mayor Dai Xianglong told China Newsweek that having all these former chiefs and experts discussing the most relevant topics in one setting is an impossible feat for many international forums.
The forum, as a nongovernmental platform, impresses its guests with outstanding facilities and an easy and comfortable style. Guests can visit each other during the forum and carry on their conversations, “so that the discussions are more open and dive deeper,” Chau said.
Ding Yifan, a researcher with the Development Research Center of the State Council, told China Newsweek that the forum is unique in that it enables important leaders to interact in an unofficial capacity.
The personalized services provided by the organizer create a great experience for delegates, Ding added.