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China Enhances Int'l Co-op via Parliamentary Exchanges
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China reinforced parliamentary exchanges with foreign countries in 2007 to create a favorable global environment for domestic development and bolster the construction of a harmonious world.


Parliamentary exchanges conducted by the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, is an important supplement to inter-governmental diplomacy to enhance mutual political trust and step up pragmatic cooperation, said Wu Bangguo, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee.


Last year, the NPC sent out more than 110 delegations, mostly for legislative exchanges. Meanwhile, the NPC received 91 delegations with nearly 1,000 members from 56 countries, among whom were speakers from 22 countries including the United States, Russia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India and South Africa.


Former European Parliament (EP) President Josep Borrell Fontelles traveled to China in July 2006, marking the first visit by a top EP official to China in 13 years. Fontelles said that he witnessed huge changes happening in China through this visit and thus had a new understanding of China.


"Getting to know the real China is the best way to dispel any misunderstandings and to solve any problems," he said.


Thereafter, the former president rebutted the theory of "China threat" in an article, noting that there was no reason for the Europeans to feel threatened by an awakening China.


China's parliamentary exchanges used to be temporary and symbolic until the reform and opening-up, said Liu Ming with the Center of Contemporary International Studies of the Communication University.


In the past few years, China's economic growth put forward higher requirements for the country's diplomacy, lending NPC a more active role in global arena.


Indeed, compared with inter-governmental diplomacy, parliamentary exchanges seem to be more casual with subtle influences. On behalf of public opinions, legislators tend to be less limited by their political status and more candid and pragmatic in communication.


After the June 4 event in 1989, many Western countries imposed sanctions on China and high-level exchanges were once frozen. NPC then took the initiative in 1990 to invite the commission des affaires etrangeres of the French Senate and the Chamber of Deputies of the Italian Christine Democratic Party. Delegations were helpful to lifting the sanctions.


With regular exchanges with China, Congress of the United States played a key role in reducing bias in the country. Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, was impressed by China's religious freedom and democracy after his visit in 1997. While the US Congress was wrestling with the White House over diplomatic policies to China, parliamentary exchange was a good channel bolstering relations of the two countries.


Against a backdrop of globalization, parliamentary exchanges also help boost economic and trade cooperation.


During Wu Bangguo's fruitful visit to South Africa from last Aug. 28 to Sept. 9, China and Brazil signed a series of cooperative agreements on trading in jet planes, jointly building hydro-electricity plants and other important projects.


China and Chile inked a referendum of understanding on cooperation in the production and trade of copper. Wu and Chilean President Michelle Bachelet also announced that free trade agreement between the two countries would be brought into effect from Oct. 1, and that free trade investment and service trade talks would also be officially launched then.


Talking about future development, Wu Bangguo underscored the establishment of regular bilateral dialogue mechanism with foreign parliaments. "It is an important step to ensure the consistency and stability of diplomacy and beef up its efficiency," he said.


In 2007, the NPC will start the regular bilateral dialogue mechanism with the parliaments of seven more countries including Australia, Brazil, Chile, Egypt, India, South Africa and the Republic of Korea, bringing the total number of countries under such a mechanism with China to 15.


(Xinhua News Agency March 16, 2007)

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