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ASEM heralds new era for China's diplomacy
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17:06, October 23, 2008

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The current global financial turmoil triggered by subprime leading crisis in the US has brought many unstable and uncertain factors to the world's economic environment. However, China maintained a steady and progressive direction for home and foreign policies, and achieved positive results in relations with the US and Japan. Although there are still many uncertain factors, generally speaking, the overall situation in neighbouring areas is fairly stable.

China is going to hold the Seventh Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM 7) in such circumstance. The significance of ASEM to China can be interpreted from following four aspects:

First, the multilateral meeting and cooperation is an important stage for China's diplomatic development. On the occasion of the 12th anniversary of the ASEM, China is set to host the 7th Summit, which will doubtlessly be regarded as grand diplomatic opportunity. Leaders and representatives from 45 ASEM member countries will gather in Beijing to attend the meeting.

The summit will create a platform for summit diplomacy where Chinese leaders can hold a series of talks with their foreign counterparts. The experience drawn from previous ASEM shows that a successful meeting can achieve the same effect of an official state visit. In light of the ongoing global financial turbulence, measures to deal with economic crisis will be high on the agenda. The ASEM will serve as a multilateral stage that will remain valid and functional.

Apart from that, more bilateral benefit will be achieved under the ASEM mechanism. Taking Sino-Japanese relations as an example, the two Asian neighbours issued a joint declaration on promoting China-Japan Strategic and Mutual Beneficial relations during president Hu's state visit to Japan.

Will it be possible for China and Japan to further develop cooperation and consolidate mutual trust under the multilateral mechanism? For example, the issue like whether it is necessary to set up a secretariat for ASEM has been debated for years, and Japan has once put forward an ideal of "virtual secretariat", but it is still unsettled now. On the issue of strengthening ASEM mechanism, it will be beneficial to set up a secretariat with its headquarter based in Asia. It will be well if ASEM headquarter is set up in Japan, a move thought to be conducive in pushing forward multilateral development and enhancing China-Japan mutual trust.

Thirdly, to solve the disputes through dialogue between different culture and belief has become a well-acknowledged trend. Some ASEM members called for dialogue and exchanges among different belief. Some countries in recent years advocated the values and proposed value-oriented diplomacy. ASEM can serve as a good stage, and with its help, China can have its voices heard and opinions accepted by the world. The effective exchanges and communication will help China's policies better understood and finally accepted by the world, which will be conducive to solving the values dispute and building a harmony between the nations.

Finally, to enhance multilateral development through more investment. It is not a bad idea to invest more in ASEM and help it develop as long as national strength permits. For instance, China could put forward an idea of setting up a "research centre on environmental technology", which was abandoned without a known cause, under ASEM framework. Furthermore, it might be workable if the centre is set up in Shanghai. The metropolitan is working actively to attract international regional organizations. Thanks to the policy of reform and opening-up adopted 30 years ago, China can play a more important role on the international arena, and be a good host.

By People's Daily Online

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