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Intervention by Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing at the Fifth ASEM Foreign Ministers' Meeting (24/07/2003)
2004/06/16

Mr. Chair,

Dear Colleagues,

Let me begin by thanking our host, the Indonesian government for its warm hospitality and thoughtful arrangement.  As I served as China’s first ASEM Senior Official, today’s event is like a joyful home-returning for me, to meet old friends and make new ones.

Our world today presents a mixed picture.  Peace and development are the common aspiration of all peoples while world multipolarization and economic globalisation continue to surge on.  Neither the world’s basic structure nor its development direction has changed.

Asia has seen progress in political and security dialogue and intra-regional economic cooperation.  The outbreak of SARS is now under effective control.  Europe has come to a new historical period for its integration, and the EU is assuming an increasing role in world politics and economy.  However, international uncertainties have gone up.  Unilateral tendency is gaining ground.  The Iraq war has cast a long shadow.  Terrorism and other trans-boundary problems appear more deadly.  Certain regional hotspots are flaring up again.  The global economy remains in doldrums.  All these factors on the downside pose a grave challenge to the stability and prosperity of Asia and Europe, and indeed, the world as a whole.

To build a new type of equal partnership between Asia and Europe and maintain and promote stability and prosperity in our regions and the rest of the world is the purpose of ASEM, which is of profound immediate significance and long-term strategic importance.  The complex and fluid international situation has made it all the more necessary and urgent for Asia and Europe to step up dialogue, interaction and cooperation.

Both being major international forces making for world multipolarization, Asia and Europe share broad consensus on many important world issues.  Democracy is what nations want for themselves at home; it is more relevant when it comes to relations between them.  All countries ought to have the right to participate in deciding how international affairs should be conducted.  Disputes between countries should be resolved through consultation, dialogue and cooperation on an equal footing.  Both Asia and Europe are in favour of a leading role of the UN in international affairs, with its authority well maintained and the purposes and principles of its Charter duly complied with.  Asia-Europe consultation and coordination in international and regional affairs serve the interests of not only the peoples of the two continents but also those in other parts of the world.  China supports an early start of the ASEM Ad hoc Informal Consultative Mechanism.  It is hoped that a fair and rational new international political order can be facilitated through closer Asia-Europe cooperation in the spirit of mutual respect, consensus, and seeking common ground while putting aside differences.

The foundation for this new type of equal partnership is trade and economic cooperation between Asia and Europe.  It is imperative for our two sides to take advantage of our mutually complementary edges in market, resources and technological know-how and work for our sustainable development and a global economic revival.  In particular, we should

--Earnestly implement the ASEM Trade Facilitation Action Plan and ASEM Investment Promotion Action Plan;

--Properly handle the problems arising in Asia-Europe trade and economic interactions; and

--Join hand in moving ahead the WTO Doha Development Agenda (DDA) negotiations, while being sensitive to the concerns of all parties, particularly those of developing countries, with a view to bringing about a more open and fair multilateral trading system.

The establishment of the ASEM Task Force for Closer Economic Partnership Between Asia and Europe gives expression to the shared desire for closer Asia-Europe economic partnership.  The Chinese side wishes to see both forward-looking and down-to-earth proposals from the Task Force so as to facilitate substantive progress in this regard.

Both Asia and Europe are cradles of world’s civilizations with a great deal of commonalities and individualities.  Our world is a diverse place.  And its civilizations of one kind or another are the common legacy of humanity.  It is the cultural diversity that constantly moves societies forward and changes them for the better.  Different civilizations should live with one another as equals rather than rivals, they should have frank dialogues rather than confrontations, and they should reach out in mutually beneficial interactions rather than shut themselves up behind closed doors.  Only so can they live and prosper together.

Later this year, China will host in Beijing the ASEM Conference on Cultures and Civilizations.  We hope this Conference will enhance the mutual understanding between Asians and Europeans, safeguard the diversity of our world and promote common progress for all.

Infectious diseases such as SARS pose a tremendous threat to human health and are a common challenge to international community.  The fight against SARS in China and other Asian countries received Europe’s support, which we highly appreciate.  Though SARS has been brought under effective control, mankind’s war against infectious diseases remains protracted and arduous.  We should take anti-SARS campaign as an opportunity to step up Asia-Europe cooperation in public health.  Contingency response is a critical link in containing the spread of contagious diseases, and ASEM members have accumulated valuable experience in this regard.  I wish to propose an ASEM Seminar on the Management of Public Health Emergency in October in Beijing where we can compare notes on how to best cope with our common challenges.

Since its inception, ASEM has achieved remarkable results in political dialogue, trade and economic cooperation, and social and cultural exchanges.  The Chinese side is pleased to see so many membership requests.  We support the enlargement of ASEM under the agreed principles, and maintain that the imbalance between Asian and European partners needs a proper solution by giving priority consideration to membership requests from Asian countries.  The Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), the only permanent institution under the ASEM framework, has played a positive role in strengthening the intelletual, cultural and personnel exchanges between Asia and Europe.  The Chinese side stands for a consensus-based solution to the issue of ASEF financial sustainability while taking into account the capacity of all relevant parties to pay.  ASEF can always count on China’s support.

Mr. Chair,

Dear Colleagues,

The new Chinese government is now concentrating on economic development.  On the international front, China pursues an independent foreign policy of peace and works vigorously for world peace, stability and greater common development.

China’s development requires a surrounding and international environment of prolonged peace and stability.  To cultivate friendly ties with countries in Asia and Europe is an important part of China’s foreign policy.  We will live in amity and harmony with surrounding countries and strive to make progress together.  We will advance our relations with the EU and its members and deepen the China-EU all-round partnership.  We will continue to strengthen consultation with ASEM partners, expand our consensus and work unremittingly for stronger Asia-Europe cooperation.

Thank you.

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