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Remarks by State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan at the Opening Ceremony of the 3rd East Asia Forum

2005/10/31

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends,

As the 3rd East Asia Forum convenes in Beijing in this beautiful season of golden autumn, I wish to extend, on behalf of the Chinese Government and in my own name, our warm congratulations on this gathering. As an important mechanism for East Asia cooperation, the Forum provides the government, business and academic communities in this region with a platform for more dialogue, exchanges and cooperation. Representatives of governments, businesses and academia of ASEAN countries, China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) are brought together here to discuss strategies for East Asia cooperation. This, I believe, will contribute significantly to the exchanges, cooperation and mutual trust among East Asian nations, as well as development, stability and prosperity in the region.

Asia today is in an important stage of development. The pursuit of peace, development and cooperation has found its way ever deeper in the hearts of the people across East Asia. Political mutual trust among nations is enhanced, and regional cooperation expedited. Dialogue and cooperation have become the main theme of state-to-state relations in the region. Thanks to their perpetual hard work and exploratory efforts, most East Asian countries have found the road to development suited to their own national conditions, leading to steady social and economic development and marked improvement in the living standards of their people. Taking the lead in world economic development for a long time, East Asia has become a major driving force behind the economic growth of the whole of Asia and the world at large. Countries in this region are now capturing worldwide attention with their achievements through longtime unremitting efforts.

The development of East Asia is enlightening in many important ways. Among others, regional cooperation should be valued and strengthened. In response to the objective needs of economic globalization and regional integration, East Asian countries have been constantly exploring new avenues and modes for cooperation, and steadily enhancing their efforts in building cooperation mechanisms. With business ties leading the way, East Asian countries have increasingly expanded areas of collaboration, and enriched their cooperation. At present, ASEAN's cooperation with China, Japan and the ROK (10+3), the building of the ASEAN Community, ASEAN's respective cooperation with China, Japan and the ROK, and China-Japan-ROK cooperation are all moving steadily ahead with solid progress. At the 10+3 leaders' meeting last year, an East Asian Community was defined as the long-term objective of East Asia cooperation. This has further helped identify the orientation of East Asia cooperation, and opened up a new phase for cooperation in the region.

Facts have proved that East Asia cooperation serves the interests of countries and peoples in this region, bringing about tangible benefits to all peoples in East Asia. It provides a strong guarantee and impetus for sustained stability, development and prosperity in this region. It is also inflicting profound changes on regional political, economic and security environment. In pursing cooperation, all countries have witnessed deeper economic integration, greater interdependence and stronger political mutual trust. All this has laid an important foundation for closer cooperation in East Asia.

Meanwhile, we must not lose sight of the fact that East Asia cooperation is still in its nascent stage, and still faces challenges of one kind or another. How to keep East Asia cooperation in the right direction, and guide all nations to follow a path of peaceful development? How to enhance political mutual trust and security cooperation among different countries and create a favorable environment for development? How to cope with non-traditional security threats such as poverty, terrorism, energy shortage, ethnic and religious conflicts, natural disasters and avian flu in light of the evolution of the situation? -- These are the questions that all nations need to contemplate, and take effective measures to address in their future cooperation. It should be acknowledged that we face both opportunities and challenges in continuing to deepen and expand East Asia cooperation. We must seize firmly the current good opportunities, and handle properly the difficulties in front of us. We should attach strategic importance to East Asia cooperation, and view its process from a historical perspective. We should strengthen our will and efforts, and expand the areas and contents of cooperation. We should take the enhancement of cooperation as a way to expand common interests, reduce differences, and seek mutual benefit, win-win results and common development, so as to make greater contribution to peace, stability and development in Asia and the world at large.

Hereby, I would like to offer some observations on East Asia cooperation for discussion.

First, seeking common ground while preserving differences, and enhancing mutual trust. Geographical proximity and cultural similarity in East Asia are the assets for our cooperation. On the other hand, East Asian countries have different national conditions, and they have each chosen development paths that fit in well with their particularities. It is important that we fully respect the distinctive feature of diversity in our region, and take into full consideration the differences in economic development levels, social systems, ethnic groups and cultures of the countries as well as their divergent concerns. In the course of cooperation, equality of all countries must be adhered to as a matter of principle. While advocating regional cooperation, we have as our objectives to learn more from each other, and promote exchanges and cooperation, so as to achieve common development and progress.

Second, highlighting priorities and consolidating the foundation for cooperation. Among the host of regional and sub-regional cooperation mechanisms within the framework of East Asia cooperation, the 10+3 is playing a pivotal role as an important cooperation mechanism in the region. Not only should we set store by the complementarity of various mechanisms, but we should also identify priorities, and move further to increase our input in 10+3 cooperation, focus on improving its efficiency and quality, and keep it as the main channel for our cooperation. We should constantly consolidate the foundation for our business cooperation, gradually enhance political and security dialogue, and conduct social and cultural cooperation.

Third, building consensus and moving forward in a gradual manner. East Asia cooperation bears upon the interests of countries in the region and concerns of various parties. It is a new cause undertaken by no one before us. It evolves a process of building and expanding consensus, and proceeding step by step. Over the past few years, we have made many useful attempts, creating favorable conditions for further cooperation in more areas and at a higher level. At the same time, we should also be soberly aware that East Asia cooperation is a long-haul journey. We should all continue to summarize experience, enhance communications, maximize common interests, and look for ideas, ways and modes of cooperation acceptable to all countries in our region.

Fourth, embracing inclusiveness and staying open. At a time of rapid economic globalization, no country or region can achieve development in isolation. We support the leading role of ASEAN and East Asian countries in cooperation in this region. We also believe that East Asia cooperation should not, and does not need to, exclude other countries or regions. Otherwise, it will not serve the interests of East Asia. We should move forward our cooperation in an open manner, and coordinate with other regional, sub-regional and inter-regional cooperation mechanisms, so as to draw upon each other's strong points and help with each other's development. We also need to talk to and communicate in various forms with countries outside this region to have more understanding and support from them on East Asia cooperation. At present, some of them still have doubts and prejudices regarding our cooperation. Let me make a clear statement of our position here to our friends: Do not worry. Do not hesitate. East Asia cooperation is all-out open. We welcome your participation. And we welcome your valuable input in peace, prosperity and development of East Asia!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends,

China is the biggest developing country in this region. It cannot develop without cooperation with countries in East Asia, and East Asia needs the sustained and steady development of China in order to move forward. Facts have proved that while attaining its own development, China has also brought about important opportunities for East Asian development. At present, China is at a critical phase of development. We are committed to guiding our overall economic and social undertakings by a scientific approach to development, and work vigorously to build a socialist harmonious society that is people-oriented and features all-round, coordinated and sustainable economic and social development. China is firmly committed to the road of peaceful development, the principle of "building a good-neighborly relationship and partnership with our neighbors", and the policy of "building an amicable, tranquil and prosperous neighborhood". We believe in equality of all countries regardless of their size, peaceful settlement of disputes, and non-interference in each other's internal affairs. We take it as a principle to bring about mutual benefit and win-win results, and work actively for cooperation with our neighbors. We take mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and coordination as our core values, and strive to maintain a peaceful and stable security environment in the region. We will, as always, respect the different cultures, religions and historical backgrounds of our neighbors, and promote dialogue and harmonious coexistence among various civilizations. As an East Asia cooperation advocator, supporter and participant, China is keenly aware of its responsibilities and obligations in regional cooperation in East Asia. We are ready to work together with ASEAN, Japan and the ROK for steady progress in East Asia cooperation, and contribute our due share to the regional cooperation.

To conclude, I wish this Forum a complete success.

Thank you.



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