East Asia Summit shoulders regional aspirations
GOV.cn Thursday, December 15, 2005


Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (R, Front) signs on the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the East Asia Summit at the first East Asia Summit (EAS) in Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia, Dec. 14, 2005.  [Xinhua Photo] 


Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Australian Prime Minister John Howard (R-L, Front) reach out their hands for a group photo after signing the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the East Asia Summit at the first East Asia Summit (EAS) in Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia, Dec. 14, 2005.  [Xinhua Photo] 


Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (1st L) attends the first East Asia Summit (EAS) in Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia, Dec. 14, 2005. [Xinhua Photo] 


Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (R, front) attends the signing ceremony of the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the East Asia Summit during the first East Asia Summit (EAS) in Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia, Dec. 14, 2005.  [Xinhua Photo] 


Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao smiles while attending the opening ceremony of the first East Asia Summit (EAS) in Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia, Dec. 14, 2005.  [Xinhua Photo] 


State and government heads pose for photos hand in hand after signing the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the East Asia Summit in Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia, Dec. 14, 2005.  [Xinhua Photo] 

The much-anticipated inaugural East Asia Summit (EAS) Wednesday became a reality as leaders of 16 countries rounded off a meeting, and the host, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, hailed it as a success "in every aspect."

Declarations signed

Amid tight security, the summit kicked off in the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center on the heels a series of annual summits of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

After "productive" discussions, the leaders from the 10-member ASEAN and its dialogue partners, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, signed the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the summit and meanwhile adopted another declaration on curbing avian flu, according to the Chairman's Statement issued afterwards.

The decision to convene the First East Asia Summit in Malaysia was made at the 10th ASEAN Summit in Vientiane, Laos, in November 2004.

Given the daunting challenges facing nations in a myriad of areas ranging from economic growth to security and social and health issues, it is only logical and smart for ASEAN to reach out to its dialogue partners to carve out strategies to ensure the continued growth of the region, home to some 3 billion people.

Thus, the Kuala Lumpur Declaration has decided to focus on "promoting development, financial stability, energy security, economic integration and growth, eradicating poverty and narrowing the development gap in East Asia," and let the summit to "play a significant role in community building in this region."

In exchanging views on the threat of infectious diseases, the leaders adopted the Declaration on Avian Influenza Prevention, Control and Response before concluding the summit in the afternoon, pledging to work together to set up a network of stockpile of antiviral drugs and ensure "rapid, transparent and accurate risk communications" among participating countries.

The Malaysian Prime Minister, who chaired the summit, hailed it a success "in every aspect."

A smiling Badawi told a press conference after the meeting that it was "proceeding in an atmosphere of friendship and understanding," and "there was a high degree of acceptance that we have a common interest to see that this part of the world will continue to be one of peace, stability and prosperity."

Membership issue

Some people, like former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad who originally proposed the East Asian process, had earlier raised eyebrows over the involvement of Australia, New Zealand and India in the EAS, as these countries are geographically located outside east Asia.

The Kuala Lumpur Declaration issued at the gathering, however, clearly stated that the summit will be an "open, inclusive, transparent and outward-looking forum" with ASEAN as the "driving force working in partnership with the other participants."

Russia has been tipped to be hopefully the next joiner of the regional forum. The chairman's statement said Russia has expressed interest to participate in the meeting, and the leaders "agreed to consider its participation in future East Asia Summits based on the criteria established by ASEAN."

In fact, the First East Asia Summit also saw the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin, a guest of the Malaysian government, who addressed the EAS leaders during a special session before their retreat. Badawi said Russia's membership will be tackled at the next EAS meeting.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, addressing the summit, said China believes the participation of India, Australia and New Zealand in the East Asia cooperation process will give greater scope to further cooperation.

"China takes the position that in pursuing regional cooperation, it is imperative to be open-minded and promote open regionalism so as to achieve progress for all countries and development in all regions," Wen said.

While saying that China looks forward to working with these three countries "to advance East Asia development and cooperation," he welcomed the participation of Russia to the summit.

"The United States, the European Union and other countries and organizations outside the region are also welcome to develop relations with the East Asia cooperation mechanism," the Chinese premier added.

Annual affair

Meanwhile, the chairman's statement has declared the East Asia Summit to be an annual affair, and the second EAS is scheduled for next year in Cebu of the Philippines, the venue of the 12th Summit of ASEAN, which groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

"The summit was not just another talkfest, or fruitless, as painted by some. It showed the way forward towards enhancing ties among nations, both politically and economically," observed a local analyst.

Premier Wen addresses East Asia Summit


Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao smiles while attending the opening ceremony of the first East Asia Summit (EAS) in Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia, Dec. 14, 2005. [Xinhua Photo] 

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao addressed the first East Asia Summit which is being held in Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia, on Wednesday. more>>

Related story:

1st East Asia Summit opens in Kuala Lumpur

The inaugural East Asia Summit (EAS) opened Wednesday morning at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center following the 11th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and other related Summits.

The first EAS, the highlight of the series of summits, was participated by leaders from ASEAN, China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand, although the latter three countries are located geographically outside east Asia.

Backgrounder:

East Asia Summit

Malaysia hosts the first East Asia Summit (EAS) on Dec. 14, 2005, back-to-back with the 11th the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and other related Summits.

The historic decision for ASEAN to host the EAS was taken by the ASEAN Leaders at the 10th ASEAN Summit in Vientiane last November.

The first EAS will be participated by ASEAN, Australia, China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea and New Zealand.

ASEAN, established in 1967, groups Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia.

ASEAN believes that it should be in the driver's seat in the EAS and that the EAS will be open and outward looking.

The EAS will be a forum for dialogue on broad strategic issues of relevance to East Asia as well as other regional and global issues. Discussions will focus on regional and International issues of common interest and concern such as international terrorism, energy, infectious diseases, sustainable development, poverty reduction and others.

The Leaders are also expected to have an exchange of views on the role that the EAS can play in strengthening the regional architecture.

At the end of the EAS, the leaders will sign the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the East Asia Summit.

 
Editor: Yang Lei
Source: Xinhua