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Speech by Premier Zhu Rongji of the State Council of the People's Republic of China at the Closing Ceremony of the Third ASEM Foreign Ministers' Meeting(28/05/2001)

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, please allow me to offer warm congratulations on the success of the Third ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.

This is the first meeting of Asian and European foreign ministers in the new century.  The participating parties have conducted in-depth discussions in an atmosphere of friendship and equality on three topics, namely political dialogue, economic cooperation and trade and cultural exchanges, and reached broad consensus on relevant regional and international issues.  This meeting has helped Asia and Europe to enjoy stronger partnership, closer cooperation and enlarged common ground.  It marks a good beginning for Asia-Europe cooperation in the new century and is of vital significance to the furtherance of such cooperation.

The world is undergoing profound changes.  The rapid advancement of science and technology, marked acceleration of economic globalization, stepped-up economic restructuring and continued expansion of international trade and investment have brought new opportunities to the development of all countries and regions.  Meanwhile, economic globalization has also magnified the risks of global economic operation, given rise to trade protectionism and widened the wealth gap between the North and the South as well as the “digital divide”.  Therefore, it is essential for countries in Asia and Europe to follow the trend of global development and make vigorous efforts to meet the challenges and risks so as to pursue greater development.

There is no conflict of fundamental interests between Asia and Europe.  In fact, they hold identical or similar views on many major international issues.  Countries on these two continents are all committed to safeguarding world peace and regional stability.  They respect diversity of the world and believe that their relations should be based on mutual respect and the principle of seeking common ground while shelving differences.  They are highly complementary in the economic field and trade, and they stand for closer cooperation.  

In the new century, Asian and European countries hold out tremendous potential and broad prospects for increased political dialogue, economic cooperation and cultural exchanges.  We should intensify consultations on regional and international issues and the UN affairs, step up cooperation in such fields as the economy, trade, banking, science and technology, environmental protection, culture and education, and strengthen coordination in the fight against international organized crime and illegal immigration.  Extensive cooperation will not only facilitate the development of Asian and European countries, but also contribute to greater equilibrium in international relations and the establishment of a more balanced international political and economic order.

China’s development and its prospects have all along attracted world attention.  I had in-depth talks with leaders and businessmen of many countries at the ASEM summits held in London and Seoul respectively.  Over the past 20 years and more since reform and opening-up, China has scored tremendous achievements in its economic and social development, attaining the strategic objectives for the second stage of its modernization drive and enabling its people as a whole to live a fairly comfortable life.

China has recently formulated a plan for the economic and social development for the first five years of the new century, kicking off its march toward the third-stage strategic objective of achieving basic modernization by the middle of this century.  Since the beginning of this year, China's national economy has maintained a sound momentum for development despite of the world economic slowdown.  We will adhere to the policy of expanding the domestic demand, continue to adopt the pro-active fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy, press ahead with the strategic readjustment of the economic structure and implement the strategies of developing the western regions, rejuvenating the nation through science and education, and sustainable development.  All these will give impetus to sustained and fairly rapid growth of the national economy.  At the same time, we will continue to deepen our reform, open wider to the outside world, and take an active part in international economic cooperation and competition.  China is a developing country with a population of over 1.2 billion and has a huge latitude and potential for economic development, so it will surely overcome all difficulties ahead and continue to score new achievements.

China pursues an independent foreign policy of peace.  It has taken an active part in the Asia-Europe cooperation process.  We hope to see ASEM meetings play a bigger role in the prosperity of the two continents.  The Third ASEM Summit, which was held last October, laid important groundwork for Asia-Europe cooperation in the new century.  The Chinese Government is ready to work together with all parties concerned to promote further development of Asia-Europe cooperation, safeguard world peace, stability and prosperity and make greater contribution to the development and progress of mankind.

Thank you.

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