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China’s moves highlight ASEM summit

Yang Jingzhong
Updated: Oct 17,2014 6:26 PM     Xinhua

BEIJING — China’s fresh efforts and initiatives to enhance pragmatic international and regional cooperation has highlighted the ongoing 10th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit, amid calls by other ASEM leaders for promotion of cooperation in multiple fields.

Observers say closer Asia-Europe interconnectivity, practical cooperation and coordination on global issues have drawn much interest and attention worldwide during the summit underway in Milan, Italy, under the theme of “Responsible Partnership for Growth and Security.”

INTERACTION FOR BETTER ASIA-EUROPE INTERCONNECTIVITY

Speaking at the two-day summit on Oct 16, Premier Li Keqiang called on Asian and European countries to safeguard peace and security and boost interconnectivity so as to promote development of the world’s largest landmass.

Since the establishment of the ASEM 18 years ago, its members have been deepening political dialogue and broadening cooperation, which has led to the emergence of a Eurasian community of shared destiny, said Li, noting that China stands ready to work with other countries to foster the awareness of a Eurasian community and promote unity and coordination of the two continents.

He suggested that nations in the region stick to the spirit of openness, inclusiveness and shared destiny, and work together to construct a new type of Asia-Europe comprehensive partnership dedicated to peace and development.

In a three-point proposal, Li urged Asian and European countries to jointly safeguard regional peace, security and development, improve Asia-Europe interconnectivity, and further liberalize trade and investment, so as to accelerate the establishment of a Eurasian single market.

China is willing to work with regional countries to build a inter-connected Eurasian infrastructure network, he said, proposing to resume the ASEM Economic Ministers’ Meeting mechanism and set up an Eurasian center for sci-tech innovation cooperation.

He also called for joint efforts to promote people-to-people exchanges and social development.

All parties involved should support multi-channel and multi-level exchanges and strengthen experience-sharing in fields including urbanization and public health, he said, suggesting that disability affairs be included into the Asia-Europe cooperation framework.

Meanwhile, the premier reiterated China’s unswerving adherence to the policy of peaceful development, good neighborliness and friendship, saying China is willing to share with Asian neighbors the benefits of its economic development and the responsibility of maintaining regional security and stability.

On global cooperation in the fight against the deadly disease of Ebola, Li announced that China will provide additional aid worth at least 100 million yuan ($16 million) to help West Africa fight the Ebola outbreak.

He said the Chinese government stands ready to fight Ebola, which poses a grave threat to global public health, along with the international community.

Prior to the latest assistance, China has offered the embattled Africa a total of 234 million yuan ($38 million) in aid to battle the rampant disease since April.

Li also expounded his country’s stance on maintaining the world order, building an open global economy, and strengthening Asia-Europe practical cooperation.

China, a founding member of the ASEM, has sent its premiers to all the previous summits and brought up 25 initiatives in total on the Asia-Europe cooperation in such fields as scientific and technological innovation, energy conservation, environmental protection, sustainable development, economy, trade and investment, and urbanization.

China’s initiative on peaceful and inclusive development has been echoed warmly by other ASEM members.

They have expressed the hope to tap potential for cooperation based on their respective development strategies, innovate cooperation forms, and make greater progress in cooperation in the fields of economy, trade, investment and interconnectivity, so as to make the development of Asian and European countries more robust.

“The ASEM summit has offered a good opportunity to bring the Silk Road Economic Zone and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road conceptions into Asia-Europe cooperation,” said Cui Hongjian, director of the Department for European Studies of the China Institute of International Studies.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said last month that the Asian market offers incomparable investment and trade opportunities for European companies, adding that Asian growth has fueled the world economy when Europe was struggling with fiscal stability and low growth rates.

INTENSIFICATION OF EFFORTS FOR BILATERAL COOPERATION

Despite divergences in political landscape and strategic appeals, leaders of Asia and Europe have conducted positive and constructive dialogues during the summit, while the vast Eurasian continent struggles to recover from economic recession and is beset by political deadlocks over a number of flash points.

Further efforts are also being made to enhance mutual trust in politics and security, and push forward cooperation in such unconventional fields as high-tech transfer, climate change, eco-friendly industries and anti-terrorism.

China, having promoted the initiatives on the Silk Road Economic Zone and the Maritime Silk Road to facilitate connectivity between Asia and Europe, has been acting as a propelling force to enhance the ASEM’s role.

“Our interdependency goes way beyond economic ties. Our security is interlinked,” said Van Rompuy, noting the two continents, faced with common challenges such as fighting religious extremism and terrorism, can only achieve success through joint efforts and communication.

“It is in this broad context... that we appreciate the ASEM’s role. It has the added value of public diplomacy, of stressing the importance of cooperation and the common interests that bind us all,” he said.

During their bilateral meetings on the summit sidelines, both the Chinese premier and leaders of European and Asian countries reiterated their commitments to the multi-polarization and democratization of international relations, and the principle of resolving differences and disputes through dialogue and consultation.

China, said the premier, is ready to strengthen communication and coordination with other ASEM members to jointly safeguard global and regional peace and stability, and play a more active role in further promoting Asia-Europe relations.

Other ASEM leaders, such as French President Francois Hollande, President of the Republic of Korea Park Geun-hye, Italian Prime minister Matteo Renzi, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and Vietnamese Premier Nguyen Tan Dung, made positive responses to China’s initiatives at their bilateral meetings with the Chinese premier.

They said ASEM members, sharing broad interests and constructive relations, are willing to work with China to promote high-level and people-to-people exchanges, expand cooperation in various fields and strengthen communication and coordination with China on international and regional affairs.

As the ASEM — a high-level and large-scale intergovernmental platform for dialogue and cooperation between the two continents — is to embrace its 20th anniversary in 2016, all members are expected to strive for further progress in introducing new forms of and new mechanisms for multilateral and bilateral cooperation, in a bid to raise the efficiency of cooperation and lay a solid foundation for better cooperation in the future.

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