“All the subjects of the 2021 edition of the Boao Forum fall under global governance,” said former French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin who is participating in the annual conference being held on April 18-21.

“From the place of China in the world, the great ‘Belt & Road Project‘ to the digital revolution and new forms of development … all changes require a strengthening of global governance,” said Raffarin in a recent interview.

“The number one objective of international cooperation must be peace,” he stressed. “To do this, we must promote dialogue and respect. Each nation must take its part in our community of shared future. Cold or hot wars do not promote cooperation, in particular when it is necessary for nations to invent the multilateralism of the 21st century.”

Founded in 2001 when Asian countries sought economic integration in the aftermath of the 1998 financial crisis, the Boao Forum, a non-governmental organization, has been dedicated to facilitating exchanges among stakeholders in Asia and beyond. Its annual conference in 2020 was canceled due to the pandemic.

Themed “A World in Change: Join Hands to Strengthen Global Governance and Advance Belt & Road Cooperation,” this year’s Boao Forum is aimed at providing an inclusive platform to discuss challenges of common concern, build consensus and boost confidence for the region and beyond.

Noting that ideological questions or rivalries between powers often hamper multilateral cooperation, Raffarin believed that it is possible to find initiatives of common interest “by proposing concrete, geographically localized subjects.”

“The best way to avoid the aggravation of the current international difficulties is to promote projects in which all actors find their benefit. The danger of the period would be that the spirit of closure, of protectionism, the radicalization of nationalism would reject all ideas of shared cooperation,” he said.

China is adapting to the situation of the world and will remain one of the engines of global growth in the long term, said the veteran French politician.

“It strengthens its national market by strengthening domestic demand and strengthening its businesses. Consumption dynamics support Chinese imports and foreign trade. This is dual circulation. The earlier return to growth in China than elsewhere will promote global recovery. The Chinese market is becoming an imperative market for any business that wants to go global. This is also true of the European and American markets,” he said.

As Europe wishes to defend its sovereignty and promote its independence to avoid deadlock situations and promote global cooperation based on balanced rules, it is necessary to negotiate good agreements to regulate the flows, such as the Sino-European agreement on investments, or the return to good functioning of the World Trade Organization, he added.

Confronted with the global crisis inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Boao Forum this year will surely touch the issue of health. Raffarin said that his participation would aim to bring together the subjects of health and those of the environment, “because indeed these are the two neighbouring and major concerns of our public opinion.”

“Protecting the planet amounts to protecting populations. Despite the current international difficulties, it seems to me necessary to seek consensus between the nations. With the future of the Planet being the key to the destiny of humanity, the ‘Planetization’ of our policies may be the new form of globalization, a more humane approach to globalization,” he said.