Vice President Zeng Qinghong reaffirmed China's determination to embark on a road of peaceful development on Monday at the inaugural session of the Ministerial Segment of the 60th session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP)
"Put simply, the theme of the present era is peace and development, and China . . . has decided to follow the path of seeking development while safeguarding world peace and contributing to world peace through its own development," said Zeng.
Continued rapid economic growth has led some countries to speculate that China, which is emerging as a major exporter and destination for foreign direct investment, may pose a threat to others in the region.
The nation's amazing economic performance has also led others to contemplate its future role in the world.
"China will never seek hegemony, at present or in the future, no matter how well-developed it becomes," said Zeng.
The nation will boldly participate in economic globalization to develop extensive and mutually beneficial cooperation, Zeng added, stressing in particular the adherence to independence so it can make decisions autonomously.
Zeng also said that in the face of new challenges, Asia-Pacific countries should build political trust, enhance coordination, deepen regional cooperation and advocate harmony while maintaining global diversity. He stressed that the diversity within the region provided broad space and opportunities for economic cooperation and trade.
During the High-level Visionary Meeting for Asia and the Pacific 2020, former Vice Premier Qian Qichen said that China supports equality, reciprocity and cooperation in its ties with other countries in the region. It does not make use of international or regional organizations to target any country.
"So far, China's diplomacy has been very subtle," said UNESCAP Executive Secretary Kim Hak-su. "It is not threatening others, and other neighboring countries very much respect the way China handles international matters."
Kim said that he appreciated China's keen interest in the UN and UNESCAP, and held that China can be an active member in the multilateral bodies.
Other participants at the meeting agreed.
China is "arising peacefully" and that will benefit all others in the region, said Fidel Ramos, the former president of the Philippines.
"I believe China will not seek hegemony by force," he said.
China has set a good example in actively cooperating with other countries to seek common prosperity and treats neighboring nations fairly, said former Pakistani President Farooz Ahmad Khan Leghari.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan noted in a message to the inaugural session that the region needs to pay attention to three challenges: implementing the Monterey Consensus, which sets out a firm basis for national and regional efforts to promote financing for development; environmental sustainability; and the fight against HIV/AIDS.
To tackle these challenges, this year's UNESCAP session assembled a panel of former leaders to predict the state of Asia in 2020.
Highlighting diversity in the region, Qian said the Asia-Pacific region and countries in the region should "maintain peace and stability, respect and trust each other and stay away from conflicts and wars."
By 2020, everyone in the region should be able to enjoy "full development, human rights, dignity and freedom from poverty and injustice," he added.
Qian called on religions in the region, like Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Brahmanism, to cast away their prejudices and discrimination against each other and coexist in mutual accommodation and promotion.
But he pointed out that challenges such as territorial or border disputes, political disagreements, armed conflicts, economic friction and wrangling over resources still need to be conquered.
To that end, countries in Asia and the Pacific need to act collectively, through a strengthened multilateral cooperation network with the UN at the core, Qian said.
While advocating dialogue and cooperation in resolving disputes, he also urged respect for diversity of civilizations and multiple development models in the region.
"They (differences) are not barriers to the common task of meeting challenges, but rather important bases for mutual emulation and common progress."
On the sidelines of UNESCAP, Zeng held meetings with foreign leaders and officials.
(China Daily April 27, 2004)