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Tuesday, September 11, 2001, updated at 08:28(GMT+8)

Foreign VIPs on China and World in New Century

Various former foreign state leaders attending an international forum expressed their views Monday on the relations between China and the world in the 21st century.

Former German Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl commented during the International Forum on China and the World in the 21st Century that the economy of China has remained a growth rate of 7 percent to 9 percent, and the trade volume between China and the European Union (EU) has been increasing sharply.

China will face the issues of reforming its state-owned enterprises and economic restructuring, he said, noting that this is a difficult but worthwhile process.

Former Australian Prime Minister James Hawke criticized the United States for its China policy.

"One of the tragedies was that the United States never developed an Asia policy as such -- a policy which looked closely at the fundamental economic, social and political changes that were occurring in the region, and adapted to them," he said, stressing that "U.S. policy was a residual of the broader challenge of containing the threat of the former Soviet Union."

Citing the issue of human rights, for which the U.S. often criticizes China, Hawke said that "infant mortality rates in China have improved to the point where a child born in Beijing or Shanghai today has a better chance of reaching the age of one than a child born in Washington DC or New York."

He believed that in international relations, constructive cooperation is the best basis for policy.

He said that the Chinese people and leadership have an overwhelming desire to have a peaceful environment in which they can pursue reform and sustained economic growth. "This is in the interest of not only the Chinese people, but of the region and the world."

Former Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu said that next year will mark the 30th anniversary of the normalization of China- Japan relations. As China and Japan are two important countries in Asia, developing friendly cooperative relationship between them is the precondition for peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

Another former Australian prime minister, Paul Keating, hailed China's imminent entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO), exclaiming that the entry will "change the way the world works" in a great many respects.

"WTO membership will strengthen the Chinese economy and improve the living standards of the ordinary Chinese people by introducing a competitive economic model which lifts productivity, lowers prices and gives Chinese working people higher real incomes," he pointed out. "That is one promising signal to the world at this difficult time."

Lukin, deputy chairman of the Russian Duma, said the development of relations between Russia and China in the past decade has proven that maintaining a good-neighborly Russia-China relationship is correct because Russia and China trust each other, respect territorial integrity of each other and share the similar development goal.

He was optimistic that the trend will continue in the 21st century.

Boutros Boutros Ghali, former secretary-general of the United Nations, held that the five principles of peaceful coexistence should be observed in dealing with international relations in the new century.

The new age calls on China to make its due contribution to building up a modern civilized society in which cultural differences, ideology and unequal levels of development are set aside.

The Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs, sponsor of the three-day forum, held a banquet Monday evening to entertain participants.

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Various former foreign state leaders attending an international forum expressed their views Monday on the relations between China and the world in the 21st century.

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