Remarks by Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi at the Opening of the Seventh Asia-Europe People’s Forum
Let me begin by extending, on behalf of the Chinese Government, a warm welcome to all the participants at the Seventh Asia-Europe People’s Forum. Welcome to Beijing for this grand gathering of the people of Asia and Europe in the golden season of autumn. I also wish to express deep appreciation to the International Organizing Committee and the China National Organizing Committee for the tremendous efforts they have devoted to this Forum.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The world has been undergoing extensive, profound and complex changes since the beginning of the new century. With the further progress of economic globalization, the destinies of all countries are getting more and more interconnected and the world is becoming a “global village”. We face both rare development opportunities and unprecedented risks and challenges. The recent turbulence in the international financial market has dealt a blow to the world economy and aroused the concern of the entire international community. No country in the world can expect to stay away from such issues as global warming, environmental degradation, resource shortage and the increasingly grave international economic and financial situation or address them on one’s own.
The new situation calls for intensified cooperation of the international community to jointly meet challenges. In this connection, strengthened cooperation between Asia and Europe not only serves the immediate need but also has a long-term strategic significance. The Seventh ASEM Summit will be held from 24 to 25 October in Beijing with the theme of “Vision and Action—Towards a Win-Win Solution”. This will be the first ASEM Summit held after its second enlargement. The Chinese side attaches great importance to the Summit and is making a active preparations for it. We hope that the Summit will help increase mutual understanding and trust and enhance multilaterialism through extensive and in-depth political dialogue between Asia and Europe, advance globalization for mutual benefit and win-win outcome through in-depth discussions on ways to meet global economic challenge and maintain financial stability, promote sustainable development and social harmony through exchange of views on such important issues as UN Millennium Development Goals, climate change, energy security and dialogue among civilizations. I am confident that with the concerted efforts of all ASEM partners, the Summit will produce fruitful results and contribute to the peace and development of the world and the well-being of the people of both Asia and Europe.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The ASEM process is aimed at promoting not only inter-governmental cooperation among Asian and European countries but also and more importantly, closer exchanges between people of the two regions. Since its inception, the Asia-Europe People’s Forum has done a lot in promoting sustainable environmental, social and economic development, protecting the economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights of the people in Asia and Europe, and facilitating the participation of various sectors of the society in the ASEM process. It has put forward many good proposals that have attracted close attention of ASEM, and contributed its share to Asia-Europe cooperation. I believe that the participants at the Forum will, following the principle of equality and mutual respect, fully exchange views on subjects related to the theme of the meeting, seek common ground while putting aside differences, increase consensus, make constructive contributions and work together to make the Forum a productive one. I hope the Forum will make greater efforts in the following aspects:
First, the theme of the Forum— “For Social and Ecological Justice” –covers a wide range of issues, including the MDGs, climate change and ecological justice, social security in Asia and Europe, women’s participation in political affairs, rights of the disabled people and counter terrorism, all of which are common challenges confronting countries in Asia and Europe. I hope the participants will conduct in-depth discussions on these issues in a pragmatic manner and come up with practical and feasible suggestions which will serve as important policy reference for the upcoming ASEM Summit.
Second, countries in Asia and Europe vary in cultural background, religious belief, political system and level of socio-economic development. It is likely that different parties to the Forum may think differently on some issues. I hope the participants will act in a spirit of mutual understanding and treating each other as equals, rise above differences, increase dialogue and expand common ground so as to promote Asia-Europe cooperation and contribute to the building of a harmonious world of enduring peace and common prosperity.
Third, not long ago, China successfully hosted the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games, which enabled the world to learn more about China and China more about the world. I hope that Chinese and foreign participants at the Forum will strengthen communication, increase exchange and enhance friendship so that this Forum will serve the same purpose of enabling people from other Asian and European countries to learn more about China and vice versa.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This year marks the 30th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up program. This program has aroused the enthusiasm of the Chinese people, raised productivity, and stimulated major social and economic development. It has instilled vigor and vitality into China and brought the biggest benefits to the people. Reform and opening-up is a strategic choice that has shaped the course of development of contemporary China. China is firmly committed to the policy of reform and opening-up. We will continue to deepen economic restructuring, press ahead with political and other reforms, and broaden and deepen opening-up.
With the deepening of reform and the establishment and improvement of the market economy, China’s social management structure is also undergoing profound changes. It is part and parcel of China’s overall reform. The number of social organizations in China is increasing rapidly, totaling nearly 400,000 now. They are playing an active and unique role in promoting social development, improving people’s livelihood, protecting the environment and achieving the MDGs. The Chinese Government highly values the role of social organizations in various sectors and encourages them to make positive contribution to socio-economic growth and public undertakings. During the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games, 100,000 games-time volunteers, 400,000 city volunteers, one million social volunteers and 200,000 volunteer cheerleaders offered more than 200 million hours of service. Their high quality service helped ensure the smooth running of the Games and the city life and contributed greatly to the success of the two Games. They have therefore won praise from all quarters. The Chinese Government will continue to improve relevant policies and regulations on social organizations and the information network of social organizations in a bid to foster a more favorable environment for the growth of social organizations.
The Chinese Government supports social organizations in China in their effort to fully participate in the activities of this Forum, express the aspirations of China’s social organizations, offer good opinions and suggestions and make constructive contribution to greater mutual understanding and friendship among people in Asia and Europe, closer solidarity and cooperation between Asia and Europe and in-depth growth of a new type of comprehensive partnership between the two regions. The Forum has become an important part of the participation of Chinese social organizations in international activities. The Chinese Government will continue to give vigorous support to Chinese social organizations in conducing closer exchanges and cooperation with their counterparts from across the world and facilitate their participation in international exchanges so that they can play an even greater role in promoting mutual understanding and friendship between the Chinese people and people of other countries and in building of a harmonious world.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I speak with full conviction that, with concerted efforts from all the participants present, the Forum will play a positive role in promoting people-to-people exchanges and cooperation between Asia and Europe and in pushing forward the ASEM process. It will also make a unique contribution to maintaining world peace, stability and prosperity and promoting human progress and development.
In conclusion, I with this Forum a complete success.