Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao outlined his proposals to overcome difficulties and challenges in the region while addressing the first East Asia Summit Wednesday.
In his speech -- "Be Open and Inclusive, and Achieve Mutual Benefit and Common Progress," Wen said the world is experiencing complex and profound changes, which have presented East Asian countries with both rare opportunities and numerous challenges.
East Asia, with abundant resources, a huge market and rich experience gained over the years, has a solid foundation for developing and revitalizing itself, he said.
However, the Chinese premier noted that in East Asia, there are both problems left over from the Cold War and long-standing territorial, ethnic and religious issues, as well as increasingly acute new problems such as terrorism, transnational crimes, natural disasters and the spread of communicable diseases.
The region also faces problems such as unbalanced development and widening gap in wealth, sharp increase in energy and resource consumption and deterioration of the ecological environment, he added.
Wen believes that East Asian countries should strengthen coordination and take up the challenges together.
"First, we should give priority to development and promoting common prosperity," Wen said, citing the status quo that East Asia has a big share of the world's poor population.
"Development is the most pressing regional issue and No. 1 priority for national governments," he stressed. "If the development issue is not addressed in a fundamental way, our region can not expect to enjoy lasting peace and security."
"Secondly, we should build harmonious relations and safeguard peace and stability," Wen said.
Elaborating on his proposal, the Chinese premier said, "We should respect and treat each other on an equal footing, resolve disputes and differences through dialogue and coordination, increase high-level exchanges and strengthen consultation and coordination on international and regional issues."
He also suggested that the countries should enhance cultural exchanges, encourage dialogue between civilizations and enhance people-to-people contact.
"Thirdly, we should strive to achieve win-win progress through cooperation. Under the current new circumstances, cooperation is the only way leading to common development," Wen stressed.
He said East Asia should embark on a path of regional cooperation which copes with the people's needs and moves in a direction that will yield common progress for the region.
In his speech, the Chinese premier also emphasized the importance of holding the East Asia Summit, saying it marks a new stage of East Asia cooperation and provides a new platform for attendants to discuss important issues.
The East Asia Summit, held for the first time, gathered leaders from 10 ASEAN countries and their counterparts from China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, New Zealand and Russia.