Why Asia-Europe meeting still matters

14 October 2014

Source: China.org.cn (China)
Source type: Others
Published on: 03 Oct 2010
The Eighth ASEM Summit in Brussels on October 4-5, the leaders or representatives from 48 ASEM member countries, senior EU officials and the Secretary General of ASEAN will be present to discuss how to further promote the new Asia-Europe comprehensive partnership, and how to tackle major challenges in the world. This is the largest ASEM summit with broadest range of issues since its establishment in 1996.

Since the end of the Cold War, ASEM is the largest newly established intergovernmental organization in the world, which fully embodies how Asia and Europe gradually abandoned Cold War thinking and recognized the realities of the historical and current international situation, as well as its evolutionary tendency.

Asia is ascending on the world stage while international power is becoming more balanced. Since the end of the Cold War, Asia has been immersed in a relatively peaceful period of strategic opportunity. The Korean Peninsula has enjoyed relative stability for a long time within the framework of the Six Party Talks. Most East Asian countries have achieved rapid economic development in recent years, and become the fastest growing economies in the world. China and Japan are the world’s second and third largest economies. Economic growth promotes confidence in international and regional cooperation. Regional cooperation with the core of ASEAN has made East Asia an important regional actor in international relations.

Asia's identity and regional integration has entered a new stage. The rise of regional capacity and status has made many East Asian powers reconsider their identities. Japan is gradually returning to Asia and speeding up exchanges with other Asian countries, hoping to play a larger role in the region by leading Asian countries to prosperity. While Indian-Pakistani bilateral relations remain precarious but have similar strategic objectives in promoting regional cooperation, especially within ASEM. India has become an important member of the East Asia Summit. Australia and New Zealand have joined a series of regional meetings held by ASEAN in recent years, and they will become new members of ASEM this year.

Cooperation has increased between Asia and Europe while promoting mutual growth. Most EU countries are developed countries that enjoy comparative advantages in capital, technology and economic strength to Asian countries. Asia and Europe can complement mutually in the fields of trade, technology and personnel to achieve common growth. For the rising Asian countries, it is essential for them to achieve rapid economic growth, improve people's living standards and social welfare, stabilize national regimes, and enhance the national status in the international arena.

ASEM advocates consensus to avoid interference in internal affairs in collective and pragmatic cooperation. From the perspective of social development stages, the EU countries evidently have post-modern consciousness. They are willing to transfer part of their individual national sovereignty so that they can enjoy mutual common national sovereignty in many fields. Hence, EU supernational mechanisms are continuously improving and exerting the advantages of collective cooperation. In contrast, most Asian countries are still in modern society, advocating sovereign equality, territorial integrity and nonintervention of other countries' internal affairs. ASEM safeguards concerns of the less developed and exploits "short board" principle to promote interregional exchange and cooperation effectively.

The current international financial crisis is showing obvious signs of abating. Asian countries emerged from the crisis first and proposed settling international and regional issues by multilateral cooperation. Despite setbacks, the EU remains one of the world's largest economies. ASEM has committed to promoting strategic thinking of interregional cooperation and development, which has laid a solid foundation in achieving more extensive and substantial achievements.

ASEM has enhanced mutual trust by strengthening interregional dialogue and consultation. ASEM insists on the purpose and principles of the United Nations Charter to resolve global and regional issues by multilateral cooperation. ASEM has established and improved various mechanisms in different levels and fields, such as traditional and non-traditional security threats. It has facilitated a more orderly, fair and reasonable international political economic order by promoting mutual knowledge, understanding and trust.

ASEM has enhanced economic cooperation and advanced the anti-crisis capacity. ASEM adheres to the principle of open regionalism, committing to strengthening experience exchanges in interregional economic integration. Currently, the EU and ASEAN have established their own FTA. They are also negotiating the real possibility of establishing a joint FTA. Within Asia, the member states of ASEAN and China have established an FTA, construction of ASEAN +1 and ASEAN +3 FTAs have entered a substantive stage. Asia has become the largest trading partner to Europe, more than one third of Europe's foreign trade exports to Asia. Strong anti-risk capability that Asian countries have shown in the financial crisis boosted Europe's confidence out of the crisis.

ASEM has built a new sense of identity by inter-cultural interaction and mutual shaping. ASEM brings together Eastern and Western civilizations. The two sides emphasize the principle of the equal survival and integrative coexistence, respect for and maintenance of cultural diversity, which has enhanced mutual friendship by close and frequent dialogues among civilizations and active cultural exchanges. In this process, the EU consciously considers Asian countries as a whole in the multilateral and bilateral tracks in ASEM, so that Asian countries can deal with the EU with one voice. This has enhanced the identity awareness of Asian countries, and strengthened the cohesion of the Asian side.

The EU emphasizes constraint and respect of its members, and conducts its foreign policies upon international issues in a moral and social standard. Asia reflects the internal norms of independent members of equality and mutual respect, and attempts to discuss and address regional and international issues in this way. Upon the insistence of the Asian countries, ASEM has adopted a relatively loose but easy mode of cooperation, and promoted steady development of regional cooperation step by step.

ASEM has become an interregional, regular cooperation mechanism between Asia and Europe in response to regional and international issues. It is developing an irreplaceable strategic framework for innovative thinking about how to implement exchanges and cooperation, enhance the effective coordination of both strategic logistics capabilities, and further Asia-Europe relations and harmonious interregional development.

-By Zhou Shixin, China.org.cn http://www.china.org.cn/opinion/2010-10/03/content_21058371.htm