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Asia-Europe People's Forum Held in China
    2008-10-13 23:09:31     Xinhua

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi speaks during the opening ceremony of the 7th Asia-Europe People's Forum in Beijing, capital of China, on Oct. 13, 2008. More than 500 non-governmental delegates from Europe and Asia participate in the forum that aims to promote social justice and environmental protections. [Photo: Xinhua]

Over 500 participants of Asian and European Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) gathered in Beijing on Monday for a three-day forum to discuss issues covering social and ecological justice.

Addressing the opening ceremony of the seventh Asia and Europe People's Forum (AEPF), Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi believed the forum participants would follow the principle of equality and mutual respect, fully exchange views on subjects related to the theme of the meeting, seek common ground while putting aside differences, increase consensus, make constructive contributions and work together to make the event productive.

Its theme, "For social and ecological justice,"covers a range of issues, including the Millennium Development Goals, climate change and ecological justice, social security in Asia and Europe, women's participation in political affairs, rights of the disabled and counter terrorism, all of which are common challenges confronting countries in Asia and Europe.

"I hope the participants will conduct in-depth discussions on these issues in a pragmatic manner and come up with practical and feasible suggestions that will serve as important policy reference for the upcoming Seventh Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM)," Yang noted.

Asian and European leaders from more than 40 countries will gather in Beijing on Oct. 24 for the two-day ASEM Summit under the theme of "Vision and action towards a win-win solution."

"The Chinese side attaches great importance to the summit and is making active preparations for it," Yang said.

"We hope the summit will help increase mutual understanding and trust and enhance multilateralism through extensive and in-depth political dialogue between Asia and Europe, advance globalization for mutual benefit and a win-win outcome, promote sustainable development and social harmony," he noted.

The ASEM Summit would produce fruitful results and contribute to the peace and development of the world and the well being of the people of both Asia and Europe, Yang said.

The forum, since its inception, had done much in promoting sustainable environmental, social and economic development, protecting the economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights of the people in Asia and Europe, and facilitating the participation of various sectors of society in the ASEM process, according to Yang.

The forum had put forward many good proposals that have attracted the close attention of ASEM, and contributed its share to Asia-Europe cooperation, Yang said.

"The Chinese government supports social organizations in China in their effort to fully participate in the activities of this forum, express the aspiration of China's social organizations, offer good opinions and suggestions and make constructive contribution to greater mutual understanding and friendship among people in Asia and Europe, closer solidarity and cooperation between Asia and Europe and in-depth growth of a new type of comprehensive partnership between the two regions."

The government would continue to give vigorous support to Chinese social organizations in conducting closer exchanges and cooperation with their counterparts from across the world and to facilitate their participation in international exchanges so they can play an even greater role in promoting mutual understanding and friendship between Chinese and people of other countries and in the building of a harmonious world, Yang noted.

He believed the forum would "play a positive role in promoting people-to-people exchanges and cooperation between Asia and Europe and in pushing forward the ASEM process." In addition, the forum would also make a unique contribution to maintaining world peace, stability and prosperity and promoting human progress and development, he said.

Zhang Zhijun, president of the China NGO Network for International Exchanges (CNIE), said the forum was faced with good opportunities at the present time when Asia and Europe enjoyed increasing cooperation.

The forum should continue to exert its own characteristics to strengthen understanding between Asian and European peoples, Zhang said.

He said the forum was a platform for exchanging experiences and ideas, for seeking solutions to some difficult issues, and for enhancing the healthy growth of Asian-European cooperation.

Zhang, on behalf of the organizing committee of the AEPF, expressed his gratitude for the Chinese government's support to the forum.

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