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Foreign Ministry Official Gives A Briefing on the Background of President Hu Jintao's Upcoming Visit to Southeast Asian Countries

On the morning of April 18, 2005, Deputy Foreign Minister Wu Dawei, at the invitation of the International Press Center, gave a briefing for domestic and international journalists as well as the information officers from foreign embassies in China, updating them about President Hu Jintao's upcoming state visit to Brunei, Indonesia and the Philippines as well as his attendance of the Asia-Africa Summit and commemoration for the 50th anniversary of the Bundung Conference in Indonesia. Deputy Director General of the Information Department Qin Gang hosted the briefing.

Wu said with an area of about 4.5 million square kilometers and a population of more than 500 million, Southeast Asia boasts rich natural resources and huge development potential. The region is of great diversity whether in terms of nationality, language, religion, culture, or in terms of polity, government, social system and economic development level. Most of Southeast Asian countries were historically colonized. As they realized national independence one after another since the middle of last century and later established the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), however, they are exerting growing influence on international and regional affairs.

China and Southeast Asian nations enjoy a long history of friendly exchanges. As a matter of fact, bilateral communication and exchange started early in the Han Dynasty of China. The envoy of the Ming Dynasty Zheng He made seven voyages to the Western Seas to conduct friendly exchanges with Southeast and South Asian countries, creating a number of much-told stories in history. On the other hand, many coastal Chinese went all the way down to Southeast Asia, based themselves there and became part of the local area. Since the establishment of the People's Republic of China was founded, the relations between China and Southeast Asian nations have been continuously improved and developed with enhanced political mutual trust, growing exchanges and cooperation in various fields and sound coordination in international and regional affairs.

China and Southeast Asian nations have maintained very active exchanges in politics, economy, trade, education, culture, science and technology, and have established dialogues and mechanisms of exchanges and cooperation. Dialogues and consultations in the security area have also been started gradually. China and ASEAN have established peace and prosperity oriented strategic partnership, set up 10+1 cooperation mechanism, and launched the process of building a China-ASEAN free trade area. Bilateral trade volume totaled 105.8 billion US dollars, making ASEAN the fourth largest trading partner of China. Personnel flow between China and ASEAN countries are becoming increasingly frequent and China has become one of the major origins of overseas tourists for many ASEAN countries. China and ASEAN are actively implementing the Action Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea which is committed to peace and stability of the South China Sea. China-ASEAN relations are at its best in history.

China pursues the foreign policy of "being a good neighbor and partner" as well as "creating a harmonious, tranquil and prosperous neighborhood" with its neighboring countries. China gives top priority to the good-neighborly relations with ASEAN countries. As developing countries, China and ASEAN nations share broad consensus and common interests on a number of issues. It is an established policy for the Chinese government to enhance friendly cooperation with ASEAN countries.

Wu said the upcoming visit of President Hu Jintao is an important diplomatic move for China to further consolidate friendly cooperation with the three countries and to deepen China-ASEAN strategic partnership. The three counties attach great importance to President Hu's visit. During his visit, President Hu will hold talks with the leaders of the three countries and meet with people from various communities in the three countries to exchange views on bilateral relations and important international and regional issues of common interest so as to uplift relations between China and the three countries to a new level.

Wu said since the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Brunei in 1991, bilateral relations have witnessed rapid development. China pursues the policy that all countries, large or small, are equal, which has won respect and trust of the government and royal family of Brunei for China. The Sultan of Brunei paid his third visit to China last September. Bilateral energy cooperation has been very effective. Exchanges in culture, health and national defense between the two countries are also expanding.

Since the resumption of diplomatic ties between China and Indonesia in 1990, bilateral relations have been recovered and developed in an-all round manner. President Hu Jintao met with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during his attendance of the APEC meeting in Chile last year. The two heads of state reached important consensus on the establishment of strategic partnership between China and Indonesia, which is of profound significance to the development of bilateral relations as well as the relations between China and ASEAN. During his impending visit to Indonesia, President Hu will sign the Joint Declaration with President Susilo, declaring the official establishment of China-Indonesia strategic partnership. The two presidents will also exchange in-depth views on bilateral cooperation in economy, trade, science, technology and telecommunications.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the Philippines, bilateral relations have witnessed significant progress. President Gloria Arroyo paid a second state visit to China after her reelection last year. The two countries took the lead to launch the process of joint development of the South China Sea. Bilateral economic and trade cooperation has been very effective. The two sides also established the dialogue and consultation mechanism on national defense and security. Just as President Arroyo put it, China-Philippines relations are at the prime time of development. During President Hu Jintao's visit to the Philippines, the two sides will review the progress of bilateral relations since the establishment of diplomatic ties 30 years ago and exchange views on deepening China-Philippines strategic cooperative relations in an all-round manner. The two sides will also exchange in-depth ideas on the cooperation in economy, trade, transportation, infrastructure construction and resources development.

Wu said the Asia-Africa Conference in Bundung, Indonesia in 1955 was held against the backdrop of the robust movements for national independence and liberation in Asia, Africa and Latin America after World War II. It was an important international conference between Asian and African countries where, first the first time, no colonial power was ever present. With the joint efforts of 29 participating countries, the conference generated the Bundung spirit of "unity, friendship and cooperation" as well as the 10 Bundung principles for dealing with international relations, making historic contributions to promoting the unity and cooperation between developing countries in Asia and Africa.

Fifty years have passed and today profound changes have taken place in the international scene. Peace, development and cooperation have become the trends of the times. Multi-polarization and economic globalization are developing in twists and turns. The gap between the North and the South keeps widening. The issue of development has become increasingly prominent. Developing nations in Asia and Africa are facing with both development opportunities and severe challenges. How to inherit and carry on the Bundung spirit under the new circumstances and promote the establishment of a just and rational new international political and economic order has become an issue of common concern within Asian and African countries.

Wu said the Asia-Africa Summit 2005 was initiated jointly by Indonesia and South Africa to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Bundung Conference on the one hand and to explore the orientation, areas and scale of promoting Asia-Africa unity and cooperation on the other. The summit is themed by "Reinvigorate the Bundung Spirit: Commitment to the Establishment of a New Asia-Africa Strategic Partnership". The Declaration of the New Asia-Africa Strategic Partnership will be signed and the Joint Statement by Asian and African Leaders on Disaster Reduction will be issued during the summit. As a large gathering of Asian and African leaders, the summit is of great significance to promoting the unity and cooperation between developing countries in Asia and Africa as well as the peace and developing in Asia and Africa.

As a major player in the Bundung Conference in 1955, China has made important contributions to the success of the meeting. China has been long prioritizing the development of relations with other developing countries. It is the basic stand of China's diplomacy to enhance unity and cooperation with developing nations. China enjoys profound traditional friendship, shares broad interests and boasts a good foundation of cooperation with Asian and African countries.

The relations between China and Asian and African countries are developing with a good momentum. Political dialogues, economic and trade exchanges and cooperation in various fields keep deepening. We have launched "China-Africa Forum" and "China-Arab Forum". The trade volume between China and Asian and African countries totaled 462.9 billion US dollars last year with a year-on-year increase of 35.5 percent. Asian and African countries are the major suppliers of China's imported energy and resources and also the major destinations of investments for Chinese businesses. The two sides share broad common interests in promoting economic development, improving people's livelihood, maintaining world peace and stability and pushing forward the establishment of a just and rational new international political and economic order.

Wu said President Hu's attendance of the Asia-Africa Summit and the commemoration for the 50th anniversary of the Bundung Conference is of great importance to deepening the friendly cooperation between China and Asian and African countries. China would like to join hands with Asian and African nations to contribute actively to Asia-Africa cooperation in the new period.

Following the briefing, Deputy Minister Wu also took questions from the journalists.

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