China-Southeast Asian NGOs Exchange Program in China

China-Southeast Asian NGOs Exchange Program in China
Song Sophoat (Deputy Director, AFD)

The Chinese People’s Association for Peace and Disarmament (CPAPD) hosted a China-Southeast Asian NGOs Exchange Program in China from 19 September 2012 to 30 September 2012, with delegates from Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

The CPAPD was founded in June 1985, with the objective of promoting mutual understanding, friendship and cooperation between the people of China and the rest of the world, and thus encouraging peace, disarmament, ecological responsibility and sustainable development; it is the largest nationwide non-governmental peace association with a total of 24 influential member organizations in China. Thus it conducts exchanges in various forms with more than 300 NGOs and research institutions in about 90 countries, and takes an active part in multilateral activities with the international NGO community.

After a group meeting with Mr. Liu Jingqin (Vice President of the CPAPD) in Guangzhou on 19 September, when they were briefed on the history of CPAPD, delegates moved to Shenzhen and a further briefing session by Mr. Han Qide (President of CPAPD) on 20 September, followed by a welcoming banquet for them and various NGOs in China.

The world has commemorated the International Day of Peace for over thirty years on 21 September. As part of this, the CPAPD held an Opening Ceremony of Commemoration for the International Day of Peace 2012 (which included a video message from the United Nations Secretary-General) and China-Southeast Asia Peace and Development Forum under the theme of Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future. The opening ceremony was presided over by Mr. Han Qide. The numerous distinguished guests included Mr. Ung Huot, a former Prime Minister of Cambodia and Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors, Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace.
Ms. Renata Dessallien (UN Resident Coordinator in China) delivered a keynote speech, in which she observed that “peace is humanity’s most precious asset. It is the essential inter-connectedness between all human beings, and it is the harmony between us and our natural environment. … China understands that peace, security and equitable, sustainable development are inextricably linked. … China’s principles of peaceful, scientific, harmonious development unite the objectives of economic growth, stability, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability.”

She continued: “Governments and businesses are essential for sustainable development but so are social and civic organizations. They provide valuable avenues for extending services for social and environmental sustainability. Just as Shenzhen pioneered China’s economic reforms and opening up, so has it fostered the growth of NGOs and social innovation, with very encouraging results.”

The following day, delegates went to Lianhua Mountain to release doves and a peace signing activity, after which they went to Shenzhen Municipal Museum and then the ZTE, Splendid China and China Folk Culture Village.
On 23 September, all delegates left for Nanning in order to visit the China-ASEAN Expo. The following day, all delegates visited South China City Light Industry Expo and attended a Conference on the China-ASEAN Free Trade Zone, chaired by Mr. Tang Jianning, Deputy Director-General of Foreign Affairs Office of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. There, a representative of Guangxi Commerce Department made a brief introduction on the China-ASEAN Free Trade Zone: its location as the permanent venue of the China-ASEAN Expo mean that Guangxi offers the most favorable conditions for opening up exchanges within the region, with investors enjoying preferential policies for a China-ASEAN Free Trade Area. Furthermore, the Central Government has approved Qinzhou Free Trade Port Area, Pingxiang Integrated Bonded Zone, Nanning Bonded Logistics Center and affiliate logistics and bonded function to Beihai Export Processing Zone to promote the opening up and development of Guangxi. Thus the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area was completed in January 2012, as scheduled, offering new and important opportunities for the development of Guangxi. Currently, Guangxi enjoys sound and relatively fast economic growth, social harmony and stability, ethnic unity and harmony, border peace and its people are enjoying their life and work in peace and stability.

On 25 September, all delegates visited Xialu Village (New Rural Construction of China) and Guangxi National Museum in Nanning, China.

The following day, delegates left for Beijing and the Roasted Duck Restaurant for a lunch hosted by CPAPD Vice-President Liu Jingqin.

At a conference hosted by the CPAPD on 27 September, there were two segments. In Part One, on “Development Experience of China since Reform and Opening-up Policy (1978)”, Mr. Wu Shumin (Director, China Center for International Exchanges) reviewed events since President Deng Xiaoping introduced reforms to develop “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics’ and partially opened China to the global market. Reforms have been effected not only in the economic but also the justice and political spheres, to modernise the country and revitalize the Chinese nation. He said that the Communist Party of China is a group of committed patriotic Marxists; they have never had any ambition encompassing foreign aggression or expansion, but love peace and have always focused on domestic issues. Thus the theory of socialism with Chinese characteristics is a masterpiece shaped by a large group of patriotic communists, including Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, which spells out how to shake off China’s poverty and backwardness, and so build a modern, prosperous, strong, domestic, harmonious, and culturally-advanced socialist country.

In Part Two, on “China’s Endeavor for the Building of a Harmonious Society and Peaceful World” the chairman expanded on this. Thus China will accelerate the reform of political and social systems, improve basic public services, develop new mechanisms for social management and make such management more efficient, and improve income distribution and the social security system. The goal is to ensure that all people have the right to education, employment and pay, medical and old-age services and housing, so that all the people share the responsibility of creating a harmonious society and enjoy life and the full benefit of development in such a society.

China also will continue to promote friendly relations with the other countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. Thus China will increase strategic dialogue with the developed countries to promote mutual trust and explore ways to establish and develop China’s relations with these countries. China will continue the policy of developing good-neighborly relations and treating China’s neighbors as partners and enhance friendship and cooperation with both neighboring and other Asian countries.

China is committed to pursuing a defense policy which is defensive in nature. It faces multiple traditional and non-traditional security challenges and the threat of separatists and terrorism. It is therefore necessary and justified to modernize China’s defense capabilities in order to uphold China’s security and protect its peaceful development. The fundamental purpose of modernizing the Chinese armed forces is to safeguard China’s sovereignty, security, territorial integrity and the interests of national development. Thus China will not engage in an arms race with any other country, and it does not pose a military threat to any other country. China’s defense expenditures are appropriate and moderate, and are in keeping with the need to safeguard its security.

The following day, delegates visited Liuminying Ecological Farm, (LEF) and the Imperial Palace. Thereafter, on the last day, they went to see the Great Wall and then attended a Roundtable Discussion chaired by Mr. Zhu Rui, Secretary General, CPAPD.