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Speech by Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan at 9th ARF Foreign Ministers' Meeting(08-08-2002)
Mr. Chairman,

This meeting of ARF foreign ministers, our first after the September 11 incident, is of special significance. How to address the ongoing complex and profound changes in the world and the region in pursuit of peace and stability is a question that ARF members need to discuss in earnest.

The past year witnessed a new development in the global security situation in which traditional and non-traditional security factors are intertwined, with the latter on the rise. Above all, non-traditional security issues such as terrorism have posed a real threat to international and regional security.

Under the new circumstances, security links between countries have become closer, and cooperation in international relations has visibly expanded.  Countries are even more aware of the need for properly dealing with globalization and striving for co-existence and win-win situation.  Relations among major countries have improved and developed.  Generally speaking, peace and development remain the main themes of our times.

In the past year, the Asia-Pacific region has undoubtedly seen most dynamic changes.

The changes we have experienced are as follows:

Firstly, non-traditional security issues are gaining importance in regional security affairs and there has been a greater desire among countries for joint efforts to address these issues. Following the 9.11 incident, many countries have carried out active bilateral and multilateral dialogue, coordination and cooperation on counter-terrorism.  Coordination and cooperation among major countries in this respect are particularly noteworthy. Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia have signed a counter-terrorism agreement. Cooperation such as these has not only checked terrorism effectively, but has also led to positive changes in relations between major countries and facilitated in-depth development of multilateral security cooperation.

Secondly, traditional hotspot issues have been on and off, and most of them are moving towards resolution. East Timor witnessed a smooth transition to statehood. The transitional government of Afghanistan was launched according to schedule, marking a decisive step towards lasting peace and stability.  The trend towards relaxation on the Korean Peninsula has been basically maintained. However, India-Pakistan relations and Palestine-Israel conflict have once again become acute. At present, India and Pakistan have on the whole exercised restraint, and the international community is working hard to promote peace between them, so there is reason to believe that India-Pakistan relations will gradually be eased.

Thirdly, there have been more energetic multilateral security dialogue and cooperation. Since the 9.11 incident, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has continued to make progress in institutional building and in deepening cooperation. Much is being done by 10+3 participants to explore ways for dialogue and cooperation in non-traditional security areas. All this has given expression to the trend toward deeper interdependence among Asia-Pacific countries and their heightened awareness for common security and development. We believe that based on vigorous exploration and practice, a multilateral security and cooperation framework will eventually take shape, a framework that aims at peace, stability, prosperity and development and is suited to the diversity of our region.

Fourthly, the question of development has become more prominent, with the overwhelming majority of countries giving top priority to their economic recovery and growth. Attaching more importance to economic security, countries have intensified economic reforms and readjustment one after another and taken a more active part in and promoted multi-form regional economic cooperation. The economic factor is increasingly becoming an important factor for the maintenance of Asia-Pacific security.

Mr. Chairman,

The ARF, born in the post-Cold-War mid-90s, has evolved into a most significant forum for security dialogue in the region. For the past eight years, thanks to the joint efforts of all parties, ARF kept moving forward in conducting dialogue and cooperation, thus playing an important role in the process of maintaining peace and stability in the region. First, ARF made useful exploratory endeavors in increasing mutual understanding and confidence among its participants and stepping up regional security dialogue and cooperation. It implemented nearly 80 CBM projects. Second, last year's ARF foreign ministers' meeting adopted three documents, including one on preventive diplomacy, thus giving a new impetus to future development. Third, ARF conducted fruitful dialogue and cooperation on fighting terrorism and cracking down on cross-border crimes, etc. It issued a Chairman's Statement on counter-terrorism, held a series of seminars on the subject and decided to set up a new ISG mechanism. All this will be useful to the multilateral effort to tackle non-traditional security issues such as cross-border crimes. Fourth, in the course of ARF's exploratory efforts, a set of effective modalities and principles have taken shape, such as adopting decision by consensus, making gradual progress, moving at a pace comfortable to all, and not interfering in each other's internal affairs. These principles will not only guide future progress of ARF, but also serve as reference for other regional organizations.

The Chinese Government has always attached importance to the positive role played by ARF in maintaining regional peace and stability, and supported ARF in keeping the momentum of development and continuously making new progress. I wish to reiterate that the Chinese side supports ARF in further exploring and developing dialogue and cooperation in non-traditional security field, including counter-terrorism, in gradually expanding the participation of defense officers in ARF, and in continuously adhering to the existing and effective modalities and principles, with confidence building at the core.  China also supports ASEAN in continuing to play a leading role within ARF.  

Mr. Chairman,

In order to expand dialogue and cooperation within the ARF framework more vigorously and effectively, I would like to emphasize the following two points:

1. We hope that non-traditional security issues will be a highlight for dialogue and cooperation in the ARF. Such issues are now a real threat we face and a pressing subject we must cope with. Transnational or trans-regional in nature, most of these issues are difficult for one or a few countries to deal with.  Multilateral cooperation is the only way to tackle them. At last year's foreign ministers' meeting, I put forward the proposition for ARF to launch cooperation on non-traditional security issues. At the ARF SOM held last May, the Chinese side distributed China's Position Paper on Enhanced Cooperation in the Field of Non-Traditional Security Issues, in which China's views were systematically set forth.

In addressing non-traditional security issues, it is essential to have the immediate interests in mind and also to treat both their symptoms and root causes, and make efforts to eliminate poverty and establish a new international order that is fair and rational.  Non-traditional security cooperation should be carried out in an all-round and gradual manner by political, economic, diplomatic, military, legal, scientific and technological and other means.  The Chinese side believes that ARF can play its due role in this field.  

2. We stand for enhancing regional security dialogue and cooperation based on a new security concept with mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and coordination at its core.  The new security concept is built on our common interests. The 9.11 incident clearly shows that in today's world, security threat tends to take diverse forms and go global.  Economic globalization has led to the mingling of economic and security interests of countries and their closer links.  The connotation of security has expanded from the military and political to economic, scientific and technological, environmental, cultural and many other fields.  For this, we propose a new security concept, with the emphasis on building mutual trust through dialogue, settling disputes through negotiation and seeking security through cooperation.

In 1996, China made a call for the first time at ARF foreign ministers' meeting for the abandonment of the Cold-War mentality and the introduction of a new security concept.  Over the years, ARF has been dedicated to promoting security in Asia-Pacific through dialogue and cooperation.  This is in line with what the new security concept stands for.  We have submitted to this foreign ministers' meeting a position paper on the new security concept in the hope of working together with all participants to explore effective ways to realize lasting peace.

Mr. Chairman,

It is the common responsibility of us all to safeguard the hard-won post-Cold-War stability and development in Asia-Pacific.  As a member of this region, China will continue to play a constructive role and urge the parties concerned to settle their disputes through dialogue and negotiation and preserve regional peace and stability.  In the meantime, China will participate in international and regional security dialogue and cooperation process with greater zeal and openness.

Thank you.
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