BEIJING: Chinese President Xi Jinping will deliver a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.

The forum, scheduled for April 8 to 11 in Boao, a town in the southern island province of Hainan, will have the theme “An Open and Innovative Asia for a World of Greater Prosperity.”

Xi will meet with foreign heads of state and government and officials from international organizations, meet with BFA directors collectively, and hold discussions with entrepreneurs, Wang said.

It will be the third time for Xi to attend the BFA annual conference as Chinese president, indicative of the event’s importance and the support given to the forum by the president and the Chinese government, Wang said.

Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Mongolian Prime Minister Ukhnaa Khurelsukh, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde are expected to attend the forum.

In addition to attending the forum, the Austrian president, Dutch prime minister, Mongolian prime minister, Singaporean prime minister and UN secretary-general will also pay a visit to China.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of reform and opening-up in China, and the beginning of the implementation of the decisions made at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.

Wang said Xi’s attendance at the BFA annual conference at this historic moment is of great significance in further promoting major country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics in the new era, building a community with a shared future for Asia and humanity, and advancing the cause of peace and development.

The BFA annual conference is the first major diplomatic event to be hosted by China this year, Wang said, adding that its highlights will include revealing new prospects for reform and opening-up, interpreting the new era of China’s development, making new proposals for the future, promoting new progress in partnership, and injecting new impetus for BFA development.

Xi will expound on China’s achievements and experience in reform and opening-up and their significance for and influence on the world. Xi will also announce new measures to expand reform and opening-up, Wang said.

“Further reform and opening-up are not only good for China, but will also bring huge benefits to the world. That’s why this year’s forum gets so much attention,” said Lin Guijun, a scholar from the University of International Business and Economics.

Hot topics during the forum could include the Belt and Road Initiative, innovation and opening-up, as the world expects China to play a bigger role in fighting protectionism, said Lin.

President Xi will also explain China’s stance on building a community with a shared future for Asia and humanity and jointly creating a better future for Asia and the world.

“The concept of ‘a community with a shared future’ could be a highlight, as it is important for countries to realize that they share common interests,” said Wang Jun, a researcher with China Center for International Economic Exchanges.

According to Wang Yi, more than 2,000 participants from around the world are expected to get together and offer advice on cooperation, development, and prosperity.

The BFA has been expanding both in scale and influence since its establishment 17 years ago, and has played a unique role in building consensus, deepening regional cooperation, boosting common development, and resolving Asian and global problems, Wang said.