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China Takes Constructive Attitude Towards East Asian Summit

China takes a constructive attitude towards the upcoming 1st East Asian Summit in Kuala Lumpur, according to Cui Tiankai, director of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's Asian Department, at a news briefing Wednesday,


Cui said China is looking forward to a summit that can demonstrate the common ground of all parties and is beneficial to the current regional cooperation.


He said China is OK with any effort to this end.


The 16 participants to the summit include the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), China, Japan, the Republic of Korea (ROK), India, Australia and New Zealand.


The leaders from the participating countries will exchange views on how to build up regional collaboration and deal with political, economic and social affairs. A joint declaration will be proposed at the end of the meeting.


"The future of the summit depends on what can be achieved from this round of the meeting," he noted.


Cui told the press there was a long story behind the summit, saying the whole process started in 1997 when a financial crisis highlighted the need for closer cooperation.


ASEAN countries launched the initiative and invited China, Japan and ROK to join them in this process. In the last few years, significant progress has been made, so the involved countries are convinced it's high time to kick off the 1st East Asian summit.


ASEAN set out three criteria for participation: signing a Treaty of Amity and Cooperation; to be an existing ASEAN dialogue partner; and to have existing substantive cooperation with ASEAN.


The signatory countries include China, Japan, the ROK, Russia and India. Australia indicated its readiness to sign the treaty. Russia is formally applying for membership.


Cui said the summit is open and is bound to see a larger number of participants in the years to come.


"We welcome the involvement of and contribution by any country that meets the three criteria set by ASEAN," he said.


Commenting on the absence of the United States at the summit, Cui said, "We are aware of the interests expressed by the US in the process. We welcome constructive contribution from the US."


Whether the US can be incorporated into the process is a decision that has to be made by the US itself and ASEAN, he added.


Comparing the forthcoming East Asian Summit with the ASEAN plus China, Japan and the ROK Summit (10 plus 3), Cui said the 10 plus 3 summit is already a success in facilitating regional cooperation and can do better.


Premier Wen Jiabao is to go on an official tour of four European countries before stopping in Malaysia in mid-December, where he will attend the ninth Summit between China and ASEAN, the ninth ASEAN plus China, Japan and the ROK Summit, and the First East Asian Summit.


(Xinhua News Agency December 1, 2005)

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