Chair's Statement of the Seventh Asia-Europe Meeting
Beijing, 24-25 October 2008
1. The Seventh Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM 7) was held in Beijing on 24 and 25 October 2008. The Summit was attended by the Heads of State and Government of sixteen Asian and twenty-seven European nations, the President of the European Commission and the Secretary-General of ASEAN Secretariat. The President of the People's Republic of China, H.E. Hu Jintao addressed the opening ceremony. The Premier of the People's Republic of China, H.E. Wen Jiabao chaired the meeting.
2. The Meeting was the first gathering of the leaders of 45 members of ASEM since its second round of enlargement. They represent around 50% of world GDP, approximately 58% of the world's population and 60% of world trade. A warm welcome was extended to the leaders of Bulgaria, India, Mongolia, Pakistan, Romania, and the ASEAN Secretariat who attended ASEM Summit for the first time.
3. Leaders of ASEM members held in-depth discussions on important international and regional issues of common concern and interest under the overarching theme of Vision and Action: Towards a Win-Win Solution.
4. Leaders reaffirmed the strategic importance of ASEM, and recognized that Asia and Europe are closely related geographically, historically and culturally, share many common ideals, are complementary in economic and social development and rich in cultural diversity. They recognized the high expectations placed on ASEM by their peoples, and emphasized the need to further strengthen Asia-Europe dialogue and cooperation on the basis of equal partnership, mutual respect, mutual benefit, seeking common grounds while shelving differences and learning from each other, which will bring about development opportunities and tangible benefits to both regions and be conducive to peace, stability and development.
5. Leaders expressed their deep condolences and sympathy over the recent severe human and property losses incurred in natural disasters in Asia in the past year. They affirmed their commitment to continued assistance to the affected countries. They stress the importance of efficient and prompt delivery of humanitarian aid and expertise in case of natural disasters. Leaders highlighted the need for joint global efforts to address global challenges including natural disasters in a timely manner and undertook to conduct practical disaster preparedness and management and reconstruction cooperation in the areas of infrastructure, agriculture, health, water, environment, education, science and technology, with a view to promoting regional and national capacity building in disaster preparedness and management.
6. Leaders reaffirmed their commitment to promoting peace and security, sustainable development and human rights in accordance with the UN Charter and principles of International Law. Leaders, in marking the 60th Anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, reaffirmed their commitment to the principles contained therein.
Promoting Political Dialogue
7. Leaders reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening multilateralism and a multilateral international system with the United Nations at its core based on international law. They underlined that international institutions provide both a means of cooperation and a mechanism through which to deliver change, and should adequately address the global challenges, ensuring global security and working for global prosperity. With regards to UN and other international institutions reforms, leaders recognized the need to work in partnership to achieve more democratic, more accountable, more efficient, and more effective international institutions in the face of new challenges. They also reiterated their support to peaceful resolution of international disputes through political and diplomatic efforts.
8. While condemning terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, leaders reaffirmed their commitment to take practical steps to prevent and combat terrorism with reference to the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, underlining the need to adhere to the major UN conventions and protocols dealing with terrorism and to respect international laws, including the Charter of the United Nations, Human Rights law, refugee law and international humanitarian law, in the global fight against terrorism. Calling for expeditious finalization of a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism at the UN, they expressed their appreciation with the outcome of the formal review of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy held in New York on 4/5 in September 2008 and the existing dialogue and cooperation on counter-terrorism within ASEM and welcomed the outcomes of the ASEM Conference on Counter-Terrorism in Tokyo, Japan (2007) and Madrid, Spain (2008). Leaders also welcomed the offer of the Philippines to host the 7th ASEM Counter-Terrorism Conference in 2009.
9. Leaders had in-depth exchanges over international and regional situation. The Leaders discussed and evaluated the current development of situations in Asia and Europe, and agreed that the prevailing hope of the Asian and European peoples is promoting peace, development and cooperation. The peoples of Asia and Europe are dedicated to dialogue and cooperation so as to enhance strategic mutual trust, create enabling regional security environment and commonly address conventional and non-conventional security threats. They supported the progress of the integration process of East Asia, ASEAN and South Asia, and welcomed the signing of the ASEAN Charter including the proposed creation of an ASEAN Human Rights Body and the delivery of the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint. They discussed the development of European Union's integration process and acknowledged that since its inception, this process had promoted peace, stability and development in Europe.
10. Leaders had exchanged views on recent developments on the Korean Peninsula. They positively confirmed and supported the Six-Party Talks and welcomed the progress made in the second-phase actions for the full and balanced implementation of the Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks unanimously adopted on 19 September 2005. They agreed that these developments contribute to the peace and stability of Northeast Asia. They called on the relevant parties to continue to take positive steps to move forward the Six-Party Talks with the aim of early and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner. They also emphasized the importance of addressing the humanitarian concerns.
11. Leaders stressed their commitments to promote peace, stability and development in Afghanistan and emphasized their support to Afghanistan's national reconciliation, unity and territorial integrity. They welcomed the progress of the reconstruction achieved so far and the International Conference in Support of Afghanistan held in Paris last June and the final declaration issued. They expressed the support to the full implementation of the Afghanistan Compact and the Afghanistan National Development Strategy. Leaders vowed to contribute to the fulfilment of the aims of the agreement to strengthen institutions, good governance and anti-corruption efforts to promote the rule of law and the respect of human rights. They emphasized that the international community should assist Afghanistan in these regards, and help combat narcotics cultivation of and trafficking in drugs in Afghanistan and its neighbors. They welcomed the key role played by the United Nations in the reconstruction process, and stressed the support to deepening the regional cooperation and dialogue on the issue of Afghanistan. They also expressed their appreciation for the international efforts in combating terrorism in Afghanistan.
12. Leaders exchanged views on developments in Myanmar. They expressed their unanimous support for the good offices role of the UN Secretary General. The Leaders acknowledged the progress achieved in assisting the post-Nargis relief work by the Tripartite Core Group (TCG) comprising Myanmar, the UN and ASEAN, and the assistance provided by the international community to those in need. They expressed the support to the United Nations to continue to play a constructive role and to the ASEAN-led mechanism to continue its good performance in coordinating the ongoing relief and recovery efforts in Myanmar. The Leaders took note of the briefing by Myanmar on the recent developments and prospects. They noted the recent visit to Myanmar last August by the UN Secretary-General Special Advisor Ibrahim Gambari and supported the UN to continue its good offices efforts, and they encouraged the Myanmar Government to conduct closer cooperation with the UN. They also encouraged the Myanmar government to engage all stakeholders in an inclusive political process in order to achieve national reconciliation and economic and social development. In this regard, they called for the lifting of restrictions placed on political parties and early further release of those under detention.
13. Leaders confirmed their commitment to seek a negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear issue, addressing their serious concerns about Iran's nuclear programme. They called on Iran to comply fully with UN Security Council resolutions and to meet fully and without delay the requirements of the IAEA Board of Governors. They welcomed the offer of a road-map of the resumption of negotiations proposed by China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States in June 2008 and called on relevant parties to seize this opportunity for the resumption of negotiations.
Advancing Economic Cooperation
14. Leaders discussed the current international economic and financial situations and recognized that the current global financial crisis has severe impact on the global financial system and world economy. The international community should jointly overcome the financial crisis through enhanced cooperation. The leaders agreed to issue the Statement on the International Financial Situation.
15. Leaders reiterated their commitment to strengthening economic and development cooperation and coordination, raising capabilities to address various risks and challenges and promote fair and balanced progress of economic globalization which benefits all. Concerned about the development of the least developed countries, leaders stressed the importance of debt relief and debt sustainability.
16. Leaders reaffirmed the importance of an open, fair, rule-based and stable multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organizations (WTO) to achieve economic growth and development, and to reduce global disparities and trade imbalances, recognizing that such a system is the most effective way in promoting trade liberalization and expanding and diversifying trade relations and increasing economic opportunities among ASEM partners.
17. Leaders were concerned over the current situation of the Doha Round negotiations of the WTO and expressed the conviction that an early and successful conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda would bring benefits to all members, especially developing and the least developed countries. They remain deeply committed to pushing for successful conclusion of a comprehensive, ambitious and balanced Doha outcome, recognizing the central importance of its development dimension. Leaders reaffirmed their full support for ASEM members' universal membership to the WTO and thus for early accession of Lao PDR into the WTO.
18. Leaders recognized that each country has the primary responsibility for its own development and stressed national development need to be supported by an enabling international economic environment. They called upon all countries to actively implement the internationally agreed development goals including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and looked forward to a substantive outcome of the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to be held in Doha at the end of November 2008 and noted the importance of Accra Agenda for Action of the 3rd High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness held in Accra in September 2008. Leaders stressed their commitment to mobilize additional development finance through increased official development assistance (ODA), debt relief, where appropriate, and innovative financing mechanisms towards the attainment of the MDGs. Leaders welcomed the recent success of the replenishment of the Asian Development Fund, which contribute to regional development. They also welcomed the holding of a Conference on Development Cooperation in the Philippines in 2009.
19. Leaders expressed their concern over fluctuation of commodity prices worldwide especially of oil and food, since they pose a serious challenge to stable growth and cause great difficulties to the life of people in many countries, especially the most vulnerable. They called for strengthened efforts including food aid and social protection activities, and trade facilitation to stabilize the surging food prices quickly, mitigate their impact and help the affected developing countries, especially the least developed countries get through this challenging time. They expressed their commitment to taking joint and comprehensive measures to address the crisis in the medium to the long run, including strengthening policy coordination and cooperation, increasing sustainable input in agricultural production, raising agricultural productivity, in a bid to secure food supply. To coordinate and implement these measures effectively, leaders called for the formation of a global partnership involving all actors, including governments, the private sector, civil society and other international institutions. In this connection, they highly appreciated Vietnam's initiative on the first ASEM Forum on Food Security in 2009. They affirmed their support to the United Nations in playing a leading and coordinating role in this regard, and expressed the support to the outcomes of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) High-Level Conference on World Food Security in Rome. Leaders also look forward to the upcoming Follow-up High Level Conference that will be held in Madrid later this year. In addition, they also confirmed the importance of advancing research and development of agricultural technology, particularly on enhancement of agricultural productivity.
20. Leaders recalled the Hanoi Declaration on a Closer ASEM Economic Partnership (CEP) and reiterated that ASEM partners should strengthen cooperation and join hands to deepen economic partnership, promote open trade and boost two-way investment, further develop a conducive business environment and offer sustainable trade opportunities to all ASEM partners, especially the developing and the least developed countries. In this regard, they urged the Economic Ministers to convene the meeting at the earliest possible time to review past performance and implementation of the CEP and identify concrete areas and activities for practical and effective cooperation in the coming years. They emphasized the importance of implementing activities within the Trade Facilitation Action Plan (TFAP) and the Investment Promotion Action Plan (IPAP) and better engaging the business community in the ASEM process, especially via the Asia-Europe Business Forum. Furthermore, they stressed the need to revitalize links among ASEM investment focal points to bring the economic pillar forward in a more substantive and comprehensive manner. Leaders also recognized the value of bilateral and regional trading arrangements, consistent with the WTO's rules and commitments, and noted progress in the negotiations between ASEM partners.
21. Leaders recognized that, although structural reforms and sound macroeconomic policies have increased the resilience of both Europe and Asia against the global financial turmoil, the global economic slowdown and persistently high commodity prices, both regions are increasingly being affected by the worsening global environment. They agreed that long term stability of the global and regional financial markets is key to sustainable economic growth of both regions. They welcomed the consensus on the necessity of strong and coherent policy responses to recent economic difficulties and mutual cooperation among ASEM partners in the areas of economic integration, infrastructure finance and microfinance in the form of sharing information and knowledge, capacity building, reached at the 8th ASEM Finance Ministers' Meeting held in Jeju, Korea in June 2008.
22. Leaders agreed on the need to enhance cooperation in the fields of innovation, science, and technology among ASEM partners so as to narrow the digital divide and ensure sustainable development. Leaders called for reinforced efforts to protect intellectual property rights and ensure their enforcement. They noted that protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights should contribute to the promotion of technological innovation in and to the transfer and dissemination of technology to developing countries, which is vital for sustainable development. Leaders also supported enhanced cooperation between the government, business, and the international institution on the advancement of ICT to facilitate economic integration and international cooperation in the reduction of tariff barriers, enabling open access, and the promotion of International Standard.
23. Leaders reiterated the importance of closer cooperation among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to economic development and job creation, and welcomed the consensus reached and action plans adopted at the inaugural ASEM SMEs Ministerial Meeting held in Beijing in October 2007. Leaders also welcomed the recommendations on promoting SMEs development made by the business community at the ASEM SME Trade and Investment Fair in Qingdao in October 2007.
24. Leaders welcomed the recommendations from the 11th Asia-Europe Business Forum on promoting trade and investment between Asia and Europe.
25. Leaders welcomed the initiative of Lithuania to host the first ASEM Transport Ministerial Meeting on 19-20 October 2009 as the platform for launching ASEM dialogue on transport issues between partners and the initiative of Romania to host a first ASEM Ministerial Meeting on Migration in 2009 which will deepen the dialogue on this important issue.
Driving Sustainable Development
26. Leaders held extensive and in-depth discussions on issues of realizing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as well as the sustainable development targets agreed in Johannesburg, strengthening energy security cooperation, jointly addressing the challenge of climate change, and environmental protection, including water resources, forests and air, and improving social cohesion under the framework of sustainable development.
27. Leaders stressed the importance of mid-term review of the MDGs, and underscored the need for ASEM members to further deepen international development cooperation to meet the IADGs, particularly the MDGs, in a timely manner.
28. Leaders expressed their support for strengthened international cooperation on climate change that could help assess impacts and vulnerabilities, build adaptive capacities, and support adaptation actions. Recalling the ASEM 6 Declaration on Climate Change, leaders noted with satisfaction the outcomes of the ASEM 3rd Environment Ministers' Meeting held in Copenhagen in April 2007 as well as the ASEM Seminar on the Adaptation to the Climate Change held in Japan in October 2008. In this context, leaders welcomed the substantial progress made at the Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia in December 2007. They confirmed their commitment to securing an ambitious, effective and comprehensive agreed outcome now, up to and beyond 2012 by the end of 2009 on the basis of the Bali Road Map and underlined the need to act with resolve and urgency during the Climate Change Conference in Poznan and the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.
29. Leaders also emphasized the need for the sustainable management of forest and ocean as well as other territorial, coastal and marine ecosystems. In this respect, leaders also welcomed the offer by Brunei Darussalam to host a workshop on understanding the impact of climate change on the biodiversity of tropical rainforests in 2009. ASEM leaders agreed to encourage and support regional and sub-regional organizations to develop cooperative projects entailing specialized studies on bio-diversity, melting of glaciers and protection of life-sustaining water resources as well as raising mass awareness through dissemination of expertise and technology.
30. Leaders stressed the need to focus on development needs and environmental sustainability in the energy sector. They emphasized the need for Asia-Europe cooperation to ensure the availability of environmentally sound energy at a reasonable price to support economic growth and that the latest technology should be intended to increase energy efficiency. Leaders recognised the need to develop regional and sub-regional projects amongst ASEM partners to promote low-carbon economy. Leaders acknowledged the key message on sustainable energy from the 6th Asia-Europe Environment Forum.
31. Leaders recognized that the impact of globalization is increasingly being felt by the people of ASEM members, and share a common interest in strengthening the social dimension of globalization and improving social cohesion. They welcomed the outcome of the 2nd ASEM labour and employment ministers' declaration issued at the ministers' meeting in Bali earlier this month and highlighted the importance of decent work and good governance.
32. To this end, leaders unanimously agreed to issue the Beijing Declaration on Sustainable Development.
Furthering Social and Cultural Exchanges
33. Leaders reaffirmed the respect for cultural diversity and the need to protect our cultural heritage and advocated mutual understanding, tolerance, respect and peaceful coexistence among different social systems, development paths and cultures. Leaders welcomed the valuable contributions made since the last meeting at the global level to bridge the gap between cultures and civilisations. They emphasized the importance of combining the multilateral framework with the national efforts to promote the understanding among faiths, cultures and peoples. They welcomed the results of the 1st Alliance of Civilisations (AoC) Forum held in Madrid in January 2008 and the consolidation of this UN Initiative and the increasing number of ASEM countries that have joined its Group of Friends. The UN AoC implementation of concrete projects in the field of media and youth employment, and the elaboration of National Action Plans, show the way ahead to promote global understanding involving civil societies.
34. Leaders reaffirmed the positive role of dialogue among cultures and civilizations in reducing poverty, realizing social peace, preventing regional conflicts, protecting the environment and promoting sustained economic growth, social development and common prosperity. They resolved to take concerted action to further promote interfaith understanding and exchanges, taking global leadership in working towards building a world where different cultures and civilizations co-exist in harmony, equality and mutual respect.
35. Leaders noted with satisfaction the outcome of the ASEM Culture Ministers' Meetings (CMM) held in China, France and Malaysia. They welcomed the progress achieved to enhance cultural exchanges and cooperation between Asia and Europe inspired by the ASEM Declaration on Dialogue among Cultures and Civilizations adopted in 5th ASEM Summit in Hannoi, and welcomed the decision to convene the meeting on a regular basis as well as the recommendation that a Cultural and Art Festival proposed by China be held in connection with ASEM Summits or ASEM CMM. They expressed the desire for more results-orientated discussions during the next Culture Ministers' meeting in Poland in 2010. They reaffirmed their determination to respect, protect and promote cultural diversity and the equal dignity of all cultures, and therefore encouraged the expeditious ratification and implementation of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions by all ASEM countries. Leaders also noted that tourism could contribute to mutual understanding and respect for cultural diversity. In this connection, they welcomed the outcome of the ASEM Tourism Forum held in Vietnam this year.
36. Leaders emphasized the importance of keeping the good momentum of the ASEM Interfaith Dialogue and welcomed the outcomes of the ASEM Interfaith Dialogues(Nanjing 2007 and Amsterdam 2008) and urged governments to actively facilitate interfaith and intercultural dialogues, particularly at the regional and inter-regional levels, which is part of a much broader dialogue between Asia and Europe. In this regard, they underlined the need to intensify discussions among themselves and with other regional organizations and fora on further institutionalizing interfaith dialogue at regional and global levels.
37. Leaders welcomed the constructive role of parliaments, NGOs and the civil society in promoting dialogue among cultures and civilizations and mutual understanding between people of Asia and Europe.
38. Leaders recognized that human resources development constitutes a key factor in poverty reduction and economic and social development. They renewed their commitment to further strengthen their cooperation in human resources development, capacity building and sustained dialogue and exchanges in primary and higher education, vocational training and lifelong learning. Leaders endorsed the outcome of the First ASEM Education Ministerial Meeting held in Germany and looked forward to a substantive outcome of the Second ASEM Education Ministerial Meeting to be held in Vietnam in 2009. Leaders recognized the success of the Trans-Eurasia Information Network (TEIN) in fostering research collaboration between all ASEM partners, welcomed the launch of TEIN3 and renewed their commitment to its long-term sustainability.
39. Leaders expressed their appreciation of the dialogue carried out by ASEM partners through the informal ASEM Seminars on Human Rights, held annually since 1998. They underlined their commitment to cooperate in the promotion and protection of human rights on the basis of equality and mutual respect.
40. Leaders affirmed their commitment to promote global health security including developing health-care systems and local infrastructure to improve public health in the developing world and reiterated their determination to combat health threats such as HIV/AIDs and avian influenza. Leaders welcomed the ASEM Workshop on Avian Influenza Control hosted by China and the ASEM Initiative for the Rapid Containment of Pandemic Influenza financed by Japan and looked forward to the success of the ASEM workshop on sharing experiences of preparedness to respond to the global climate change and emerging diseases to be held in Vietnam in 2009.
41. Leaders commended the Asia-Europe Foundation for its positive contribution to promoting cultural, intellectual and people-to-people exchanges between Asia and Europe. Leaders recognized the value of ASEF's flagship programmes in furthering the priorities, and enhancing the visibility of ASEM. They also commended ASEF for spearheading the development of Culture 360, an Asia-Europe cultural web-portal to enhance art and cultural exchange among ASEM member countries.
The Future of ASEM
42. Leaders reaffirmed the role of ASEM as a multi-faceted dialogue facilitator and the key cooperation areas identified in the Helsinki Declaration on the Future of ASEM for its second decade. They adopted various cooperation initiatives put forward by partners (attached as Annex I) and the ASEM Work Program for 2008-2010 (attached as Annex II).
43. With the increasing number of initiatives and meetings at various levels in ASEM, Leaders reaffirmed the importance of developing effective ways of communication within ASEM members to support ASEM cooperation in the near future.
44. Leaders applauded progress made in the institutional building of ASEM, including the Issue-based Leadership initiative (attached as Annex III) and closer coordination among embassies/permanent representations of ASEM partners as agreed at ASEM 6.
45. Leaders tasked Senior Officials to further explore ways to achieve greater visibility of ASEM and welcomed European Commission's efforts in this regard and Vietnam's initiative on the first SOM Meeting on "Coordinating Cultural Activities for the Enhancement of ASEM Visibility.
46. Leaders instructed the Ministers of Foreign Affairs to discuss the issue of enlargement in their future meetings.
47. Leaders accepted with gratitude Belgium's offer to host ASEM 8 and looked forward to meeting again in 2010.
List of New Initiatives for ASEM 7
UN/ASEM UN-SPIDER Expert Meeting: The Contribution of Space-based Solutions to Sustainable Communities
Workshop on Understanding the Impact of Climate Change on the Biodiversity of Tropical Rainforests
ASEM Eco-City Network
ASEM Culture and Art Festival
Promoting Asia-Europe Trade Security and Facilitation
ASEM Cooperation on Capacity Building of Disaster Relief
ASEM Conference on the Role of Finance in Economic and Rural Development: Experiences in Asia and Europe
ASEM Seminar on New Technologies for Demining and Human Security
ASEM Forum on the Green Growth and SMEs
Eurasian Land Bridge Seminar
Meeting of the ASEM Ministers of Interior on Irregular Migration
Program for Training of Trainers in the Field of Border Management and Security Dedicated to the ASEM Member States
ASEM Seminar on Energy Security and Climate Change
ASEM interfaith Cultural Youth Camp Project
Coordinating Cultural Activities for the Enhancement of ASEM Visibility
ASEM Workshop on Sharing Experiences on Preparedness to Response to Global Climate Change and Emerging Diseases
ASEM Forum on Food Security
ASEM Work Programme for 2008-2010
List of Issue-based Leadership
The Helsinki Declaration on the Future of ASEM recognized issue-based leadership in ASEM. Without prejudice to the role of Coordinators, countries can take the lead in sectors and on issues in which they have a particular interest and expertise. Building on existing cooperation patterns, a mechanism revolving around a number of co-sponsoring countries willing to drive projects and initiatives in a certain policy area can produce tangible benefits for all.
ASEM partners have through consultations agreed on the following basic principles and modalities of issue-based leadership. For the purpose of consistency and balance of participation, and taking into account of evolving political priorities of partners, issue/sectoral leaders or shepherds should be a group of partners, both Asian and European partners may switch leadership between two summits, and each term is normally no longer than 4 years.
Co-leaders/shepherds shall decide upon the modalities of operation of the issue/sector based on consensus. ASEM coordinators shall compile and update the list of issue-based leadership.
List of Issue-based Leadership