In review, anticipation of Asia-Europe Meeting

14:43, September 30, 2010      

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The Eighth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM 8-BRUSSELS 2010) will be held in Brussels, the capital of the current EU presidency country on 4-5 October. The leaders will focus on discussing how to "improve people's livelihood" and make a decision on the admission of additional new members. So, people around the world are all looking forward to its success.

ASEM is a product of economic globalization and regional integration, and its establishment and development has added a new impetus or thrust in this growing momentum.

At the inaugural ASEM Summit (ASEM 1) held in Bangkok, Thailand in March 1996, a new partnership between Asia and Europe was created to conduct dialogues on an equal footing and spur mutual understanding and to benefit both continents and international community as a whole.

The Second Asia-Europe (ASEM 2) was held in London in early April 1998 to mainly address the unexpected Asian financial storms, where leaders reinforced the partnership in the "Chairman's Statement" they issued at the summit, and the third ASEM Summit was convened in Seoul, the Republic of Korea in October 2000 with the adoption of "the Asia-Europe Cooperation Framework (AECF) 2000" to set goals and cooperative framework for the first 10 years of the new millennium.

At the Fourth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM 4) that was held in the Danish capital, leaders adopted the ASEM Copenhagen Political Declaration on Cooperation against International Terrorism and the ASEM Copenhagen Cooperation Program on Fighting International Terrorism, underscoring that the United Nations should take a leading role in the war against terrorism.

The Fifth ASEM (ASEM 5) held in Hanoi adopted three joint documents, including the Hanoi Declaration on Cultures and Civilizations, and it spurred Asia and Europe to have dialogues on culture and civilizations under the principles of equality, mutual respect and mutual benefit.

The Sixth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM 6) was held in Helsinki in May 2006 to strengthen multilateral cooperation in response to security threats and give a powerful support to a multilateral international system based on fairness, justice and principles with the United Nations as the center; it also issued the "Helsinki Declaration on the Climate Change".

The Seventh Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM 7) was held in Beijing in late October 2008. It was highlighted by the "Beijing Declaration" issued to promptly cope with the global financial crisis and promote world economic recovery, contributing immensely in rebuilding the market confidence, stabilizing the global financial situation and achieving sustainable and healthy growth of Asian and European economies and world economy as a whole.

The role of Asia-Europe Meeting and the ASEM summit in particular is for all to see, and it is definitely where the vitality and attractiveness of the Asia-Europe meeting rest with. As long as ASEM continues to comply with the trend and reflect public opinions, it will have a bright future. Several issues, however, should be dealt with properly and, otherwise, they could be bottlenecks.

First of all, it concerns the expansion and efficiency. After the scheduled recruitment of members at the imminent Eighth Summit, the ASEM membership will rise to 48, twice the number of its founder nations. Since the Asia-Europe Meeting is open and its expansion has a gradual process, all countries willing and capable to make due contribution can apply for membership. Therefore, the expansion of ASEM is inevitable as a matter of course.

Largeness and efficiency are often contradictory nevertheless. Each summit, though however short, has to address a couple of issues. And leaders can only speak briefly or "touch" on certain topics superficially instead of making direct interact and in-depth exchanges. So, their enthusiasm for participation could be negatively affected overtime. In order to improve efficiency, two things have to be done, and they are to cut the number of topics to present to the meeting and to lengthen the duration of bilateral meetings.

Besides, there are the issues relating to dialogue and cooperation. Major international agencies and world meetings often face a common problem, that is, more visual or empty and less genuine, and the Asia-Europe Meeting is without exception.

Though leaders have reached consensuses via dialogues throughout these Asia-Europe meetings, a lot of consensuses still stay on paper. The European Union (EU) has its own binding or restrictive mechanism, and so does the ASEAN, but there is no mechanism at all for non-EU and non-ASEAN member countries, namely, North East Asia, South Asia and the special third group of Russia, Australia and New Zealand to be formed in years ahead. Hence, it is high time now for the ASEM to seriously consider the positioning of its own characteristics.

ASEM should seize the current opportunity to carry on innovations, so as to enable the outcome of its dialogues to benefit the people of both continents. Only with the support of people, would ASEM have the genuine power to sustain its existence and development, as the people are also pragmatic and stress on practical results.

The third is Asia-Europe relationship. As a matter of fact, "novelty" and "equality" have covered or permeated with "the new and comprehensive Asia-Europe partnership" in the past, at preset and in the future. The Asia-Europe Meeting has indeed enhanced the mutual understanding of people of the two continents on global affairs ever since its institution 14 years ago, but people see the Asia-Europe ties still far from being new" and "equal" at present.

For example, while conferring on revising or amending the document the "Asia-Europe Cooperation Framework 2000", some EU representatives insisted on deleting the following words in the document" not directly or indirectly interfering in internal affairs". From the EU point of view, this demand may be reasonable, because it needs to cultivate the EU "big internal affairs". However, in the view of Asian nations, this requirement is unreasonable since it is contrary to the principles of the "UN Charter"

China is a founding member of the Asia-Europe Meeting or ASEM as well as its committed partner, and positive and constructive participant. Premier Wen Jiabao partook in all previous ASEM summits, and the Seventh ASEM held in Beijing at the sponsorship of China has been commended as a tremendous success.

China is an active promoter of dialogues on sustainable development and on cultures and civilizations and it has also set forth a series of preferable viewpoints or proposals in other spheres, thus making due contributions to the Asia-Europe Meeting. And so I am convinced that China will, as always, continues to support ASEM as this is consistent with the interests of both Asia and Europe and also in conformity with China's own interests.

By People's Daily Online and contributed by Wang Xuexian, a senior official and Chinese ambassador to ASEM

(Editor:张心意)

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