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Address by Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan at the 8th Foreign Ministers' Meeting of ASEAN Regional Forum

2001-07-27 14:12
Hanoi, 25, July 2001

Mr. Chairman:

The ASEAN Regional Forum is the most important venue in the Asia-Pacific region for the discussion of regional security issues. Since its inception seven years ago, all parties have expressed views on security issues of common concern in a spirit of candor, thus enhancing mutual understanding and trust. The Chinese side values this Forum and stands ready to strengthen its cooperation with all other parties within the framework of the Forum in a joint endeavor for regional peace and stability.

In the past year, the overall situation in the Asia-Pacific region has been stable. Following a period of difficulties, the China-US relations, which capture universal attention, have recently been on the way to improvement. The Chinese side attaches importance to its relations with the US. It welcomes a positive, constructive role of the US in the Asia-Pacific region and is ready to work with the US side to maintain peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region.

Since DPRK and ROK had their first successful summit, there has been evident relaxation of relations between the North and the South and positive developments have occurred on the Korean peninsula. Recently, the North-South dialogue has been resumed following a period of stagnation. The Chinese side welcomes this development. China will also be happy to see further improvement in DPRK's relations with other countries and hopes that the international community will create favorable conditions for peace and stability on the peninsula.

Not long ago, India and Pakistan held a summit, a major event in the history of relations between the two countries. Relaxation of relations between India and Pakistan will have a positive impact on their respective peoples and the regional situation. We hope the two sides will overcome difficulties and carry forward the process of dialogue.

In the economic arena, regional economic cooperation has grown in depth. The mechanism of East Asia cooperation with 10+3 at its core has achieved noticeable results in promoting mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields among East Asian countries. All countries have further enhanced their awareness to guard against financial crises and ability to control market fluctuations.

All in all, to seek peace, development and cooperation is still the main policy orientation of most countries in the region.

Nevertheless, there still exist certain destabilizing factors in the Asia-Pacific region. The economies in Southeast Asia are yet to emerge completely from the shadow of the financial crisis and at present face some new difficulties. Transnational problems have become more prominent, posing a new threat to regional security. Insistence on developing missile defense program will upset global strategic equilibrium, undermine regional peace and stability and adversely affect international arms control and non-proliferation process and will do no good to trust and cooperation between countries.

Mr. Chairman,

This year, the ARF has made substantive progress. All sides have in the main reached consensus on the three documents, which signifies an important achievement in the transitional process as the Forum moves from confidence-building measures to preventive diplomacy. The Chinese side supports the Forum in making efforts to implement the relevant documents where consensus has been reached. In this connection, I wish to point out that in view of the growing concern of all sides caused by non-traditional security, China is in favor of progressive development of dialogue and cooperation by the Forum in the non-traditional security field and stands ready to take an active part and play its due role therein. Much has been achieved by the Forum in promoting trust and cooperation, and this is attributable to the multilateral efforts, the ASEAN contribution in particular. The Chinese side supports ASEAN in continuing to play the leading role in the Forum. Meanwhile, given the diverse political, economic and security concern in the region, we believe that the Forum should retain its nature as a political and diplomatic forum and still focus on confidence-building. Principles such as non-interference in each other's internal affairs and consensus-building which have taken shape and proved to be effective should continue to be observed.

Ours is a world of color and diversity, even more so for the Asia-Pacific region. It is neither necessary nor realistic to apply a uniform political system and economic mode throughout Asia. Moreover, it will simply be impossible. Common progress can be facilitated only through learning from each other in an all-inclusive spirit of mutual accommodation. In our view, different social systems, development modes and values in Asia should be able to have long-term coexistence. Meanwhile, they can draw on each other's strong points to reinforce themselves amidst competition and comparison and make progress together by way of seeking common ground while shelving differences.

Big countries in Asia-Pacific shoulder important responsibility for regional peace and security, so they should settle their differences through dialogue and consultations and seek to establish constructive and good state-to-state relations in order to provide a sound basis for regional cooperation.

The Cold War is over. The security we seek should be mutual. Security built upon other countries' sense of insecurity can neither be stable nor last long. The ARF has been able to bring us all together precisely because it pursues common security for the entire region.

As economic globalization picks up speed, it is obvious that there has been greater interdependence among Asia-Pacific countries. Economic growth, mutual benefits and reciprocity and promotion of common prosperity represent the material guarantee for regional security and stability. Increased political and security dialogue and exchanges, enhanced trust and improved political relations will provide more favorable conditions for further economic cooperation.

Mr. Chairman,

The biggest contribution China makes to regional peace and security is its own stability and development. Over the past year, China has sustained economic growth and deepened reform, and its people have been living and working in peace and contentment. It is expected that China will keep an average annual growth rate of 7% of its GDP by 2010.

China's policy on Asia-Pacific security focuses on the long-term national strategic interests. Of the primary importance is to safeguard state sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity and security. In the meantime, in order to serve the fundamental task of economic development, we must work to ensure a peaceful international environment, especially a sound surrounding environment. Therefore China's policy on Asia-Pacific security is committed to the maintenance of peace and stability and the promotion of prosperity and progress in the Asia-Pacific region and advocates a new concept of security with mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and coordination at its core.

The objective of China's policy on Asia-Pacific security is composed of three parts: first, China's own stability and prosperity; second, peace and stability in the surrounding region; and third, dialogue and cooperation with other countries in the Asia-Pacific region. This was made clear by Chinese Vice Premier Qian Qichen in 1994 at the first meeting of ARF. The basic features of China's Asia-Pacific security strategy can be summed up as follows: on the basis of safeguarding national sovereignty and development, peace is stressed in its foreign policy, defense in military strategy and cooperation in regional security.

In recent years, China has established cross-century good-neighborly and friendly relations with most Asian countries. It has attached great importance to and taken an active part in both intra- and inter-regional cooperation. Following the entry into force of the Land Boundary Treaty Between China and Viet Nam, the two countries signed the Beibu Bay Delimitation Agreement last December. Positive progress has been made in consultations between China and ASEAN concerning "the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea". This year, China successfully hosted the 3rd ASEM Foreign Ministers' Meeting, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was officially inaugurated in Shanghai. The APEC Informal Leadership Meeting will also be held in China in October.

Mr. Chairman,

For a considerable long time to come, the central task for China is to concentrate its efforts on developing the economy and improving the quality of people's life. Therefore, we need a surrounding environment of good-neighborliness and friendship and an external world for mutually beneficial cooperation. In future, China will, as always, work together with other Forum participants to preserve regional peace and stability and promote mutually beneficial cooperation among countries. A prosperous and even more open China will be a positive and constructive factor for both Asia-Pacific and the world at large and it will never be a threat.

Thank you.

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