Toast by Assistant Foreign Minister Shen Guofang at the Reception of the Sixth ASEM Informal Seminar on Human Rights
(Suzhou, Jiangsu, 7 pm, September 16, 2004)
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, please allow me to welcome you to attend the 6th ASEM Informal Seminar on Human Rights held in Suzhou, China, once again on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China. Today, your active participation in this seminar will prove to be much rewarding. I would like to express my congratulations to you.
A Chinese saying that is well known to common people goes like this, "there is Paradise above and Suzhou and Hangzhou below". Suzhou enjoys a time-honored history of more than 2,500 years and it is renowned for beautiful sceneries and outstanding people it has produced. In the past June, the 28th Conference on World Heritage was held in Suzhou. During that conference, over 500 delegates from more than 100 countries chose another 34 heritages for the world. Although this two-day meeting can't be compared to the Conference on World Heritage in scale and influence, its theme can be said to originate from the heritage of mankind, the value put on "humans". There was a concept of "man is the center of the world" in ancient China. The humanitarian thought of "innate rights of man" was explicitly set forth during the period of the Enlightenment in Europe. The value various civilizations in the world put on "man" is the most precious common treasure shared by mankind.
Asia and Europe, a long distance apart, have their respective understanding and practice on some specific issues in the current field of human rights. This is very natural. Luckily, the ASEM Informal Seminar on Human Rights links us together like the Europe-Asia Continental Bridge. Through this bridge of communication, all the sides have enhanced understanding, expanded consensus, learned from others' strong points and closed the gap and achieved common progress. Through this bridge of understanding, behind different faces of members are continuously cultivated open and tolerant hearts and the spirit of equality and mutual respect. Through this bridge of cooperation, we have and will continue to make active contributions to Asia-Europe cooperation on human rights and the sound development of the Asia-Europe cause of human rights.
Today, with the rapid development of globalization, we, the "international migrants" in the field of human rights, should continue to actively disseminate and learn from each other useful experience and discuss and form ways of protecting human rights suitable to the conditions of various countries so as to earnestly benefit the Asian and European people. I wish you a success.
Finally, I propose a toast for the great success of this seminar, the development of Asia-Europe cooperation on human rights, your health and our friendship, as well as beautiful Suzhou!