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ہفتہ، 13 نومبر، 2010

China and Asia: Closer than ever before


Pursuit of peace and stability defining feature of the situation in Asia.

By Liu Jian  (China`s Ambassador to Pakistan)

In the large context of deepening trends towards a multi-polar world and economic globalisation, new changes have taken place in the economic and political landscape of Asia. Overall, the pursuit of peace, stability, cooperation and development is the defining feature of the situation in Asia.
China's ties with its Asian neighbours have indeed gone through historic changes, which are characterised by good-neighborliness, mutual trust and mutually beneficial cooperation. In a nutshell, China's relations with its Asian neighbors have been growing and moving forward. This is a fact that no one can alter.
Political Relations
This year, China has had high-level visits and exchanges with almost all Asian countries. If we count the important regional multilateral meetings attended by major Chinese leaders, such high-level exchanges number more than 60. In addition, Chinese Foreign Minister has exchanged nearly 20 visits with his Asian counterparts.
This year, centring on "Friendship Year", China held a host of commemorative activities in various forms with such neighbours as Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar and India respectively to celebrate the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations.
This year, China's relations with ASEAN have been built on past success and broken new ground. At the just-concluded 13th China-ASEAN Summit, Premier Wen Jiabao and ASEAN leaders agreed that China-ASEAN relations were the most pragmatic, extensive, comprehensive, vibrant and fruitful strategic relations. They also agreed to continue pursuing peaceful development through friendly cooperation and integration building in East Asia.
Regarding the differences or disputes between China and some neighbours on certain issues, China always holds that they should be appropriately managed and resolved through dialogue and consultation based on facts and in accordance with the basic norms governing international relations.
Economic Cooperation
Over the past two years, Asian countries have played an important role in helping Asia to lead in an economic rebound and made East Asia a major engine for world economic growth.
In trade, from January to September this year, the trade volume between China and other Asian countries exceeded US$640 billion, up by 38% year-on-year. China remains the biggest export market for other Asian countries. We have scaled up assistance to countries in South Asia, like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. We gave preferential tariff treatment to 70% of imports from Bangladesh and Afghanistan, in order to reduce trade imbalances.
In investment, the Chinese statistics show that in the first quarter of this year, China's non-financial investment in Asian countries grew by 102% year-on-year, and Asia has now hosted more Chinese-invested enterprises outside China than any other region in the world.
In infrastructure and connectivity, China actively supports the Master Plan on ASEAN connectivity, and is seeking to cooperate with East Asian countries in developing roads, railways, navigation routes and ports in the region. We also stepped up our participation and cooperation in other mechanisms. In financial cooperation, the ASEAN +3 have established a regional foreign exchange reserve pool of US$120 billion and a regional Credit Guarantee and Investment Facility of US$700 million. China has signed bilateral currency swap agreements amounting to 360 billion RMB yuan with Malaysia, Indonesia and the ROK.
Development is a common task for China and other Asian countries. China will stay committed to an opening-up strategy of mutual benefit and win-win progress, work together with other Asian countries and help and support each other to jointly push for the recovery and growth of the Asian economy.
Regional Stability
China believes that a new security concept should be established with mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and coordination at its core, one that recognises, respects and rises above national differences in terms of ideology, values, social system and development stage. China has played an active and constructive role in addressing hotspot issues. And it is dedicated in its effort to seek peaceful resolution of disputes over territory, territorial sea and maritime rights and interests through friendly negotiations.
The overall situation in the South China Sea is stable, albeit there are some disturbances. To maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea, refrain from expanding, complicating or internationalisng the disputes and avoid conflicts and tension in this region serve the common interests of China and other countries in the region.
China believes that disputes in the South China Sea should be resolved peacefully through bilateral negotiations between the parties directly involved. Pending a solution, we can shelf the disputes and engage in joint development. China is ready to work with the parties concerned to follow through with the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, build up mutual trust and promote cooperation. The parties to the disputes have agreed on a host of important principles in peacefully resolving the disputes. And some parties to the disputes share the view that forces from outside the region should not be involved in the disputes.
As a close neighbour to the Korean Peninsula, China has followed closely the development of the situation there and has made persistent efforts to encourage the parties concerned to meet each other half way and improve their relations to uphold peace and stability in Northeast Asia. We are of the view that to denuclearise the Korean Peninsula through the Six-Party Talks, address the concerns of various parties in a balanced manner and set up a Northeast Asia peace and security mechanism will fundamentally reduce problems and disputes in the region and will contribute to enduring peace on the Peninsula and in Northeast Asia. China will continue to work with the parities concerned and the international community, and play a constructive role in denuclearising the Peninsula and uphold peace and stability on the Peninsula and in Northeast Asia.
Cultural Exchange
China enjoys geographical proximity and an enduring and strong historical and cultural bond with other Asian countries, which have laid a solid basis for China to carry out social, cultural and people-to-people exchanges and cooperation with its neighbouring countries at the right time. As China advocates an open and inclusive concept on civilisation, it believes that it is important to vigorously facilitate social, cultural and people-to-people exchanges among Asian nations with different cultural background and political systems on the basis of fully respecting the cultural tradition, social system and development path of individual countries. This will further enhance understanding, friendship and mutual trust between the people of China and its neighbouring countries. And it will consolidate public support for friendly relations between China and its neighbors.
Cultural and people-to-people exchanges between China and its neighbouring countries have been most robust in recent years. More and more people are travelling between China and other Asian countries. Chinese immigration authorities registered in 2009 a total of 21.6898 million inbound and outbound visits made by people from Asia. In 2009, more than 160,000 students from other Asian countries came to study in China. We have established annual youth exchange mechanisms with Pakistan, Japan, Vietnam, Mongolia and India. We have set up more than 100 Confucius Institutes in Asia and Chinese Culture Centres in the ROK, Japan and Mongolia. "Happy Spring Festival" and other external cultural exchange programmes are well-received among governments and people of neighbouring countries. We encourage exchanges and visits between media organizations of China and other Asian nations to increase media coverage about each other and enhance mutual understanding.
China-Pakistan Relations
China and Pakistan are good neighbours, close friends and trusted brothers. The China-Pakistan relationship has stood the test of time and continued to enjoy a sound and stable development in recent years. High level visits are frequent. Bilateral cooperation in such fields as trade, energy, transportation, telecommunications and infrastructure continues to expand and deepen. There are thousands of Chinese engineers and workers in Pakistan who are working hard for the country's economic development despite difficult condition.
The Chinese government and people, over the years, have been providing unselfish and unconditional help and support to Pakistan. In light of the great loss of lives and property inflicted by the floods that have hit Pakistan since late July, the Chinese government has pledged a total of 250 million US dollars humanitarian assistance to Pakistan. The Chinese people also have been lending a helping hand in a variety of ways to help their Pakistan brothers. A Chinese reconstruction survey delegation visited the flood-affected areas in Pakistan recently and assured China's all-out support of the reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts of the brotherly country.
Apart from the achievements that we have jointly made over the years, we have more potential to explore in terms of trade, investment, defence, people-to-people contacts and others. Next year will mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries. Taking into account our special relations and our strategic partnership of cooperation, China is ready to work with Pakistan to take the opportunity of the 60th anniversary to further expand our friendly cooperation and to bring our bilateral relations into a new high.
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