The First Conference of the BFA International Science, Technology and Innovation Forum Concludes

On 11 November, the First Conference of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) International Science, Technology and Innovation Forum (ISTIF) came to an end in Macao. During the 3-day conference, a series of events were held, such as the opening ceremony and public sessions. Approximately 1,000 delegates from 25 countries showed up, including 5 political dignitaries, the chief executives of the Hong Kong SAR and the Macao SAR, over 10 ministers, 2 heads of international organisations, nearly 100 heavyweight speakers, 9 ambassadors and other diplomatic representatives to China, as well as more than 10 heads of multinational corporations.

As H.E. LI Baodong, Secretary-General of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), noted at the closing press conference, this conference possesses 3 distinct attributes. The first is that it was convened against a special backdrop. As the coronavirus pandemic remains raging across the globe, plunging the world economy into a recession, science, technology, and innovation hold the key to addressing the global challenges in an appropriate manner. The theme of the conference-- "Innovation Empowers Sustainable Development"-- is what all stakeholders focus on now.

The second attribute is that ISTIF obtained wide attention and support since its initiation. BFA’s host country, initial countries, and Board of Directors have all attached great importance to the science and technology agenda. It is right because of their views and suggestions, BFA launched the ISTIF. H.E. XI Jinping, President of the host country China, sent a congratulatory letter to the conference, and H.E. HAN Zheng, Vice-Premier of China’s State Council, delivered a keynote speech at the opening plenary, demonstrating strong support to the conference from the host country. H.E. BAN Ki-moon, Chairman of the BFA Board, H.E. ZHOU Xiaochuan, the Vice-Chairman, and H.E. Gloria Arroyo, Member of the Board, delivered important speeches at the conference. Besides, the BFA’s initial countries also dispatched representatives and envoys to attend the conference.

The third attribute of the ISTIF is that it attracted wide participation from various sectors. The conference is deemed as the largest-scale and highest-level in-person rally convened by BFA since the onset of the pandemic. Some distinguished delegation even planned on charter flights to Macao to participate in the conference. Despite their failure to make it, they remained proactive in taking part in the discussion through a variety of virtual methods.

The ambiance of the conference was rather heated. Guests from all walks of life discussed in depth over hot and cutting-edge topics in science, technology and innovation and reached multiple critical consensuses. The guests at the conference unanimously agreed that innovation was the essential driving force for development, and that Asia possessed tremendous potential for innovative development. They also argued the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) was teeming with the impetus for innovation, and that the BFA had offered a catalyst for innovation. All shareholders anticipated that the BFA would continue to leverage its edges as an international platform for high-level dialogue to facilitate international cooperation in innovation and help connect innovation resources between Asia and the rest of the world.

H.E. LEONG Vai Tac, Executive Chairman of ISTIF, pointed out at the closing press conference that the successful opening of the conference is full recognition of the work the Macao SAR Government has done in preventing and controlling Covid-19. The support from the host country leaders displayed China’s grave stress on the all-around and quality development of Macao. The conference organically mingled the four elements-- "international cooperation, national development, opportunities in the Greater Bay Area (GBA) and Macao platform"—offering refreshing ideas on pressing ahead with Macao’s moderately diversified economic growth and better integrating Macao into the GBA construction under Macao’s renewed development pattern.

H.E. LIU Weiming, Chairman of the BFA Macao Trade and Investment Promotion Institute, also put forward his closing comments at the closing press conference. As Covid-19 prevention and control come to be the new normalcy, technology, science and innovation are increasingly crucial in underpinning economic recovery. Thanks to the ISTIF, the Macao SAR Government and the BFA have built multi-level and multi-sectorial cooperation. In particular, the Macao Committee for GBA Development was established in an effort to help build an international platform for high-level exchange and cooperation in science and technology, and to inject impetus for innovation to the moderately diversified economic development of Macao.

At the same press conference, Secretary-General LI Baodong announced that the Forum would convene the Second Conference of the ISTIF in the year to come and would simultaneously hold the International Science, Technology and Innovation Exhibition to allow more technological progress to be transformed and applied in real life.