Remarks by H.E. Mr. Wang Guangya, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of China, at the Opening Ceremony of The Third APC Mekong Sub-regional Meeting on Refugees, Displaced Persons and Migrants
Beijing, 8 August 2002
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, we gather here in Beijing for the Third APC Mekong Subregional Meeting on Refugees, Displaced Persons and Migrants, when people in China are happy celebrating the coming of the season of autumn on the Chinese lunar calendar. On behalf of the Chinese Government, I congratulate the Meeting on its convocation, and also extend a warm welcome to Your Excellencies the Ambassadors, our colleagues from Cambodia, the Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam and representatives of UNHCR and IOM.
The issues of refugees, displaced persons and migrants are long-standing ones and bear a distinct feature of the times. When we talk of refugees, we think of those who are forced to leave their war-torn homeland, and we have every sympathy for the millions of refugees drifted from one place to another for their sufferings; when we talk of displaced persons, we think of those who, due to armed conflicts or reasons beyond their control, could not return to the place they call home; and, when talking of migrants, we think of those who endured great hardships in a foreign country and the sacrifice they made in their pioneering work which boosted local economic and social progress.
The current international situation is, on the whole, moving toward relaxation. However, wars and military conflicts still keep cropping up in regions around the globe. The number of refugees and displaced persons remains staggeringly high. Economic globalization, with its rapid pace, has inevitably stimulated cross-border population movement, but it has also given rise to illegal migration, human trafficking and other criminal activities, because normal migration channels sometimes fail to function properly. The international security situation has undergone significant changes since the September 11th incident. Non-traditional security issues, including the refugee problem, are getting more arresting. Given the complex historical factors and the current difficulties, it is both highly necessary and timely that we focus our discussion on seeking "durable and sustainable solutions to the issues of refugees, displaced persons and migrants".
"Refugees", "displaced persons" and "migrants" fall under different categories of concepts. They involve different groups of people and the problems are caused by different reasons. In our search for solutions, therefore, we have to treat the three problems as different ones and we need to take well-targeted approaches. Among others, the fundamental reason behind the questions of refugees and illegal migration is the unfair and unjust international political and economic order. Therefore, the international community should, first and foremost, strive to maintain world peace and stability and promote common development, so as to solve the problems of refugees, displaced persons and illegal migrants at their root. Secondly, countries need to work in real earnest to strengthen international cooperation on the basis of "international solidarity, burden sharing, mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit". Developed countries need to work with the developing ones to jointly address the global issues of refugees, displaced persons and migrants. Thirdly, international organizations such as UNHCR and IOM and regional mechanisms such as APC shall continue to play their important roles in this regard. Measures need to be taken to solve the existing problems and prevent new ones from occurring by way of providing technical and financial assistance to countries in the region, strengthening capacity building, and promoting prevention, protection, return and reintegration.
The countries in the Mekong subregion are linked together by the same mountains and rivers and tied up by deep friendship between the peoples that dates back to ancient times. We are all developing countries with identical or similar views on the issues of refugees and migrants, and we have conducted effective cooperation for a long time. The Chinese Government is willing and ready to strengthen exchanges and cooperation with other countries in the region and work with them to find the ultimate solutions to the issues of refugees, displaced persons and migrants.
In conclusion, I wish the Meeting a success and all of you a pleasant stay in Beijing.