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APEC Forum to Influence World Peace

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings are set to have a profound influence on peace and development in the region and the world as a whole, said a commentary by Wang Yusheng, a senior Chinese diplomat, in yesterday's People's Liberation Army News.

The 11th APEC economic leaders' meeting started yesterday and will conclude today in the Thai capital Bangkok and has attracted worldwide attention.

The global situation has changed a great deal since the 10th meeting held in Los Cabos, Mexico, last year.

The world economy has changed for the better and East Asia has maintained its rapid economic growth. Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations pledged to create an ASEAN community by the year 2020. The cooperation between ASEAN and China, Japan and the Republic of Korea, also known as the 10 plus 3 group, has also moved into a new stage.

At the same time, the ministerial conference in Cancun, Mexico, failed to advance the Doha round of World Trade Organization talks.

In terms of the political and security situation, there is more unilateralism as the United States and Britain started their war on Iraq without the endorsement of the United Nations. Terrorism has not been eradicated but seems to be going rampant. Multilateral negotiation has replaced unilateral suppression regarding the nuclear issue facing the Korean Peninsula.

Facing the changing world situation, this year's APEC leaders' meeting focuses on the theme "A world of differences: Partnership for the future." This has demonstrated well the democratization of international relations and the diversification of development patterns, which will benefit the new international political and economic order.

The failure of the WTO Cancun meeting certainly affects progress in achieving the Bogor goals of free and open trade and investment. Developed countries cannot expect too much from the meeting when it comes to winning their case over agricultural subsidies and the marketing of digital products.

The economic and technological cooperation among APEC member economies is lagging behind, relatively speaking. But gains are expected during the meeting as China's proposal on technological innovation, Thailand's proposal on financial cooperation and the financing of small and medium-sized enterprises have all gained wide support.

APEC leaders issued statements in Shanghai in 2001 and Los Cabos last year on counter-terrorism, and now member economies have been taking action. But counter-terrorism is still an important issue facing this year's meeting.

Though they agree on the need to combat terrorism, member economies are still divided on concrete measures, which are mainly concerned with seeking a temporary solution or finding a permanent cure, and non-interference in each other's internal affairs.

Since its establishment in 1989, the APEC forum has concentrated on economic and trade issues. But, as the world situation develops, people's expectation of APEC has increased. Cooperation and development cannot take place without a peaceful and stable environment. Thus the official economic forum should deal with new issues.

Facing the new opportunities and challenges, APEC is working on improving its mechanism and broadening the range of cooperation. It will certainly bring a positive influence to peace and development in the Asia-Pacific Rim and the world as a whole, Wang concluded.

(China Daily October 21, 2003)

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