Meeting Challenges with Strengthened Cooperation and Working Together for a Better Future
--Statement by Mr. Qian Qichen on "High-level Visionary Panel on Asia-Pacific 2020"
(Shanghai, 26 April 2004)
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Welcome to the "High-level Visionary Panel on Asia-Pacific 2020". I am very glad to join you in discussing here in Shanghai, known as the "Oriental Pearl", the threats and challenges faced by the Asia-Pacific region and looking for ideas and ways to address them.
The Asia-Pacific region has a vast landmass and a huge population. A stable and prosperous Asia-Pacific is essential to world peace and development. Diversity is a prominent feature of the region. Asia is home to most large nations with a population greater than 100 million. West Asia, Central Asia and East Asia differ from one another in circumstances. Many Asian countries are still struggling just to feed, clothe and shelter their citizens. Christianity, Islamism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Brahmanism all have a sizeable following in Asia. The Asia-Pacific region often has a unique perspective on and more profound understanding of international issues. Listening to opinions of the region and looking at its experience with greater attentiveness may provide us with useful food for thoughts in addressing major international and regional issues.
Our discussion here aims to draw up a plan for the vision of Asia-Pacific region in 2020. Every one of us is pondering: what an Asia-Pacific region shall we need to bring about? In my views, we shall work together to meet three goals: First, countries should maintain peace and stability, respect and trust each other and stay away from conflicts and wars; Second, every one should enjoy full development, human rights, dignity and freedom from poverty and injustice; Third, all civilizations should co-exist in harmony, mutual accommodation and mutual promotion, and cast away prejudice and discrimination.
As we work towards these goals, we may encounter all kinds of dangers and challenges. They include territorial or border disputes left over from the past, more immediate ethnic or factional clashes, and problems ranging from political disagreements and armed conflicts to economic frictions and wrangling over resources. Given the Asian financial contagion, the decline of the world's major economies, the September 11th attacks and the Bali explosion, the 2003 outbreak of SARS across the world and the stalking bird flu this year, the people of the Asia-Pacific have had ample first-hand experience with non-traditional security threats.
The development of humanity has always been zigzag. Similarly, Asia-Pacific development will not be smooth sailing. Difficulties and obstacles are facts of life. However, as long as we have sufficient will and as long as Asian countries work closely together, we will be able to overcome difficulties and obstacles and make steady progress.
Over the past decades, countries in the Asia-Pacific region have achieved remarkable successes in nation-building and seeking common development, and have gathered much useful experience in overcoming threats and challenges. This is our valuable asset from which we can draw precious reference.
First, acting collectively with common measures is an effective way to meet threats and challenges. We are living in a world of interdependence, and a mission to roll back threats calls for concerted efforts of all countries within a strengthened multilateral cooperation network with the UN at its center. A good number of regional and sub-regional cooperation mechanisms such as the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, the ASEAN Regional Forum, ASEAN plus China, Japan and the ROK dialogue, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and the Pacific Islands Forum have provided useful platforms for the region's countries to enhance political mutual trust and promote common development. Our victory over SARS and the bird flu, thanks to close cooperation among us Asian countries and support from the international community is clear testimony to the point. Greater efforts are needed to give full play to these mechanisms by strengthening the role of the UN and facilitating the coordination between the world body and regional organizations in the Asia-Pacific.
Second, conducting dialogue and cooperation on the basis of equality and mutual benefit is a reliable way to deal with threats and challenges. When countries have disputes, they should endeavor to settle them peacefully through dialogue, consultation and mediation in accordance with the UN Charter. Coercion or force may do more harm than good. Economic cooperation is the cornerstone for regional cooperation in the Asia-Pacific. Efforts should be made to realize common development by taking full advantage of economic complementarities of countries and following the principle of mutual opening and common prosperity. The Asia-Pacific region should play an exemplary role in meeting the Millennium Development Goals as scheduled, which requires not only the hard work of the developing countries but also the good faith of the developed countries in honoring their commitments.
Third, maintaining the diversity of civilizations and respecting multiple development models is the essential safeguard to a successful tackling of threats and challenges. The Asia-Pacific is home to a host of countries with highly different cultural traditions and present-day realities. They are no barriers to the common task of meeting challenges but rather important basis for mutual emulation and common progress. Only by respecting and supporting the endeavors of countries to pursue a development path suited to its own conditions, and promoting intercivilization dialogue and communication, can we increase the mutual understanding, harmonious coexistence among peoples and can we enjoy a better position to cope with challenges.
Fourth, cultivating a concept of comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable development is the firm basis for dealing with threats and challenges. Threats and challenges have their historical and immediate causes, and they are often interconnected. For example, poverty and backwardness are important factors behind the unrest and conflicts in the region. The digital divide keeps the region from developing evenly. Therefore, solving the issue of development is the most pressing task for the Asia-Pacific region. It is also the most powerful weapon in dealing with threats and challenges. All countries need to cultivate such a new concept of development. Domestically, they should pursue economic growth while paying adequate attention to a coordinated development between the economy and society and harmony between man and nature. Internationally, they should step up dialogue and coordination on policy matters and deepen economic cooperation so that all the people can share the benefits of economic globalization.
Long known for their talented and diligent people, the Asia-Pacific region has a better and more optimistic future to look forward to. Despite all the threats and challenges before us, so long as we unite as one and work together, we will be able to bring about a better future for the Asia-Pacific region. All of you are eminent statesmen in this region. We look forward to hearing your wise suggestions and benefitting from your insights.
Thank you all.