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China urges ASEM to adopt needed reforms
By Hu Xiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-10-01 01:03

China is maintaining that the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) should adopt reforms to bolster its effectiveness, Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Shen Guofang said.

"We hope to talk about the institutionalization of ASEM and the renewal of its working mechanisms at the coming meeting," Shen said Thursday, one week before Premier Wen Jiabao's Viet Nam tour to attend the Fifth ASEM Summit October 8 to 9.

ASEM 5 will mark its greatest enlargement since its foundation in 1996. It is expected to admit the three remaining ASEAN countries (Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar) and the 10 new EU member countries (Hungary, Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta).

Shen said the enlargement will contribute to the "flexible and constructive" attitude of all members of ASEM, adding that strengthening Asia-Europe partnership will benefit the two continents and be an important factor in promoting peace, development and world stability.

Since its establishment in March 1996, the Asia-Europe dialogue process has strongly developed on a large scale basis.

However, analysts say both continents have focused more on dialogue than co-operation. That has left ASEM member countries hoping the ASEM process be further vitalized.

The Fifth ASEM summit in Hanoi should help the process along, according to the summit's working agenda. Discussions will focus on three major themes, including political dialogue, economic co-operation, and collaboration in other fields such as cultural exchange.

The meeting is expected to adopt a chairman's statement, the Hanoi Declaration on Closer ASEM Economic Partnership and the ASEN Declaration on Dialogue among Cultures and Civilizations.

It will be the first time for Wen to participate at an ASEM summit since he took the position of Chinese premier in March 2003.

During the summit, Wen is scheduled to hold bilateral meetings with various countries, Shen said.

Besides attending the summit, Wen will pay an official visit to Viet Nam.

"The bilateral relations between the two countries are showing good development momentum," Shen said.

"First, the sides are holding top-level exchanges and have brought their political relations even closer. Second, they have deepened their all-round and multi-sphere economic and trade co-operation," Shen said, noting that China is confident of realizing its goal of exceeding US$5 billion in trade with Viet Nam by next year.

"Third, the two sides expanded exchanges and co-operation through multiple channels in various fields," Shen added.

During the visit, both sides are expected to release a joint statement and sign a series of agreements, he revealed.

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