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Strengthening Partnership Through Increased Dialogue and Cooperation

---Speech at the Fifth Asia-Europe Meeting

2004-10-09 00:00

By H.E. WEN Jiabao

Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China

Hanoi, 8 October 2004

Mr. Chairman,

I wish to begin by thanking our host, the Vietnamese Government, for its thoughtful preparations and generous hospitality. I would also like to extend a warm welcome and sincere congratulations to the 13 new members on their formal accession to ASEM. I believe that with the concerted efforts of the 39 parties from Asia and Europe, this Summit will build on the achievements of the previous meetings and further the friendly and mutually beneficial Asia-Europe cooperation in the new circumstances.

Ever since its first Summit in 1996, ASEM has vigorously conducted political dialogue, economic cooperation and cultural exchanges, which have not only spurred the development of a new and comprehensive Asia-Europe partnership, but also promoted regional peace and development. As things stand now, both Asia and Europe are in a phase of robust growth. On the one hand, enjoying the world's most dynamic economic growth, Asia boasts rich resources, broad markets, and regional cooperation on the upswing. On the other, being the world's largest developed economy, the highly integrated EU abounds in capital and possesses sophisticated science and technology. The two regions, which are both renowned for their unique cultures, share political common ground in a wide range of areas and benefit from their economic complementarities. This has laid a solid foundation for more extensive and substantive dialogue and cooperation. The member states of an enlarged ASEM have a population of 2.4 billion, accounting for 40% of the world's total and produce over half of the world's GDP. Such an ASEM will play a more important role in international affairs.

The international situation is undergoing complex and profound changes in the new century. Peace and development remain the themes of our times. The trends of world multi-polarization and economic globalization are unfolding amidst twists and turns. Science and technology are advancing by leaps and bounds. The movement of industries and capital is picking up speed. Regional integration and cooperation are going in depth. The global economy has seen a good growth momentum. However, the world is far from tranquil and development uneven between regions. Destabilizing factors and uncertainties are on the increase in international relations. Regional conflicts sparked by ethnic and religious contradictions and boundary and territorial disputes crop up from time to time. Non-traditional security factors like terrorism, cross-border crimes, spread of infectious diseases and pollution of the environment have posed an ever-growing threat. In face of new opportunities and challenges, we should adhere to the principles of mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit and non-interference in each other's internal affairs, step up dialogue and cooperation in an all-round manner, gradually advance the ASEM process on the basis of consensus, substantiate and invigorate a new and comprehensive Asia-Europe partnership, and remain committed to the principle of openness at the same time, thus jointly contributing to world peace, development and progress. To this end, I wish to make the following propositions.

1. Strengthening political mutual trust through dialogue and consultation. Against the backdrop of a complex international situation, it serves the common interests of Asia and Europe to foster a favourable regional as well as international security environment. Both sides maintain that regional and global issues should be addressed through multilateral cooperation and international relations be democratized. We need to establish and improve dialogue and consultation mechanisms at various levels, strive to enhance mutual understanding and trust, increase sharing of experience and policy dialogues on regional cooperation, and have closer coordination in various multilateral forums including the United Nations in a joint endeavour to put in place a fair and rational new international political and economic order. We need to uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, support necessary and reasonable reforms of the UN, help it strengthen its authority in handling international affairs and enhance its capacity to respond to threats and challenges. We need to carry out cooperation within the framework of ASEM, fend off and fight terrorism in all its manifestations and effectively counter such non-traditional security threats as weapons proliferation, illegal migration, cross-border crimes and HIV/AIDS.

2. Increasing economic exchanges and promoting regional economic growth and common prosperity. China is supportive of the Summit's focus on economic and trade cooperation and adopting Declaration on Closer ASEM Economic Partnership. We need to make the best use of ASEM's existing dialogue mechanisms, commit ourselves to open regionalism and increase the sharing of experience on regional economic integration. In the new round of multilateral trade negotiations, we need to have close consultation and coordination and push for an early and smooth completion of the Doha Agenda with a balance of interests of various parties. We need to deepen our cooperation within the framework of the ASEM Trade Facilitation Action Plan and ASEM Investment Promotion Action Plan, and remain committed to removing trade barriers and improving the investment climate. We need to give full play to the role of the Asia-Europe Business Forum, strengthen government-business interaction and communication and vigorously develop economic ties and trade. We need to promote cooperation between small and medium sized enterprises, explore new business opportunities and facilitate two-way trade and investment. China will host the ASEM Trade and Investment Exposition next year and welcomes the active participation of Asian and European business people.

3. Opening new horizons for cooperation and promoting coordinated economic and social development in various countries. Given Asian and European countries' uneven development levels, ASEM needs to actively carry out technical assistance and capacity building projects to narrow the development gap between ASEM members. In such areas as poverty reduction, social development, restructuring and public health, we need to give more support to the developing members in this region, particularly the poor, to help meet the UN's Millennium Development Goals. At the same time, we need to give more substance to our financial cooperation and support the development of the Asian Bond Market. We need to vigorously conduct policy dialogue and information-sharing on sustainable development and press ahead with our scientific and technological cooperation on forest protection and water management. We need to deepen our mutually beneficial cooperation on higher education and human resources development. In this way, a multi-tiered, multi-formed and wide-ranging Asia-Europe cooperation framework will gradually take shape.

4.Actively conducting dialogues among civilizations and exchanges among cultures and respecting and preserving cultural diversity. The continent of Asia and Europe, which is the home to us all, is the biggest continent on the earth. In the legend of ancient Greek, this area is deemed as the broad chest of the earth. The oriental civilizations in Asia and the occidental civilizations in Europe have added to each other's splendor in mankind's history. Either through the ancient "Silk Road" or today's information superhighway, the two sides' exchanges and mutual learning have never been interrupted, which has promoted progress and development in Asian and European countries. Against the backdrop of current international situation, it is significant to respect cultural diversity and encourage different civilizations to have dialogues on an equal footing and co-exit with tolerance. In this context, China, together with France, jointly sponsored the ASEM Declaration on Dialogue among Cultures and Civilizations for adoption at this Summit. We hope that countries in Asia and Europe will step up their coordination and cooperation in UNESCO and the UN as a whole, vigorously advance dialogue among civilizations in the international community, and improve international legislation in order to effectively preserve cultural diversity. Asian and European nations should actively go for cultural exchanges, forge close links between peoples on the two continents, and enhance the mutual understanding and friendship between youths in particular. China will host the Asia-Europe Yong Political Leaders Forum next year to this end.

Mr. Chairman,

Twenty-six years of reform and opening-up have brought about sustained and rapid growth of our national economy and foreign trade. The system of socialist market economy has been improved gradually, which is open to the rest of the world in all directions, and a wide range of areas, and at multiple levels. Not long ago, ASEAN countries officially recognized China's full market economy status, signifying their acknowledgement of China's achievements in this regard. Committed to peaceful development, China will continue to press ahead with its reform and opening up and conscientiously honor its commitments upon its accession to the WTO. China's trade volume with ASEM members accounts for 47% of its total. The economic cooperation and trade between China and ASEAN has continued to develop rapidly. The enlarged EU has become the biggest trading partner of China. China's growth will provide enormous business opportunities for all countries and regions of the world, those in Asia and Europe included. China stands ready to further step up mutually beneficial cooperation with Asian and European countries and contribute to the stability and development in Asia and Europe and in the world at large.

Currently, energy price has become a source of worldwide concern and has impacted world economy. As a big producer and consumer of energy, China has long worked hard to improve energy efficiency, promote the diversification of energy sources and the cleanness in the use of energy. While equally stressing the importance of the production and consumption of energy and environmental protection, China has given priority to the saving of energy and gradually set up and improved petroleum reserve system with an aim to guarantee energy security. During the past 25 years, China has maintained a 9.4% economic growth rate with only 4.2% increase in energy consumption annually. However, the supply of energy in China is still faced with the problem of regional and seasonal shortage and there is still room for improvement for the energy-efficient technology. Therefore, China is willing to participate in the international energy cooperation in the protection, conservation of energy as well as the development of new energy.

The single biggest danger across Taiwan Straits is so-called "Taiwan Independence". The Chinese Government will seek peaceful reunification with utmost sincerity and effort but we will never allow the separation of Taiwan from the motherland. The question of Taiwan bears on the core interest of China as well as the feeling of 1.3 billion Chinese people. We appreciate the one-China policy of ASEM member countries that are all against Taiwan Independence, which is not only valuable support for China but also favorable for the stability across the Straits.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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