HK chosen for accessibility, success

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 September, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 September, 2008, 12:00am

Bill Clinton says he chose Hong Kong for meetings to bring his worldwide philanthropic movement to Asia because of its accessibility and success.

The former president of the United States was outlining plans for the Clinton Global Initiative summit, to be held at the Grand Hyatt hotel from December 2 to 4.

The names of the 450 guests - who are expected to make commitments to solving regional problems at the end of the meeting - have not been disclosed, but Mr Clinton confirmed that Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Singapore Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew would be among them.

'Given the growth of China, India, Indonesia and any number of other countries in Asia, the population, the economic production ... the political and economic influence will shift to the Asia-Pacific region,' he said, explaining why he was taking the initiative on the road for the first time.

'There will be a lot of internal growth and opportunity - and, as always happens, a lot of internal difficulties to be resolved in many of these countries,' he added in the wake of the latest summit in New York, which drew more than 1,000 VIP guests.

'And I think that, we wanted to get the participation increased of successful Asian businesspeople and entrepreneurs and NGO participants.'

It was also a time to show the world there were many dimensions to Asia, Mr Clinton said.

'There's also not just China and India, Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world, Vietnam has 80 million people now, Korea is an economic powerhouse, East Timor with the tiniest country is the first new nation of the 21st century, Papua New Guinea still has more than half the languages spoken on planet Earth.

'I'd like for people to know more about and think more about the distinctions and the uniqueness of the nations that make up Asia, too, and analyse where this non-governmental movement can be most effective. We chose Hong Kong partly because it's easily accessible and represents I think - for all of the tensions that have been there - a real success.'