European and Asian leaders from 43 nations have begun their meeting in Beijing. The Asia-Europe-Meeting -- also known as ASEM -- focuses on the current global financial crisis and on how to combat climate change. This year's ASEM summit is the largest ever between 27 European Union member states and 16 Asian nations.
Members representing Asian and European countries meet in Beijing
The bi-annual meeting between European and Asian leaders usually discusses energy policies and preventing climate change. But this year the financial crisis is top of the agenda as European Commission President Barroso explains:
"We have to face serious challenges which do not respect any border because they are global. This is the case for the financial crisis and no-one in Europe or Asia can seriously pretend to be immune. We need a co-ordinated global response to reform the global financial system. It's very simple: We either swim together or we sink together."
Even China, host of the ASEM summit, is feeling the pinch of the financial crisis. Exports have declined, economic growth has slowed down, factories had to close, and thousands have lost their work. China's aim is to keep the country stable. The domestic market needs to be strengthened in order to prevent an economic downturn. Though the government always stresses that there were sufficient reserves and potentials to manage the crisis China is willing to co-operate with others to tackle the problem.
China willing to help
Thus China welcomes the planned summit of global leaders to be held in Washington in November to further discuss the issue, an official Chinese government spokesperson said: "China is thinking about participating at the summit. We should stay in touch with the other nations and should co-operate. In the meantime we should discuss tackling the financial crisis at the ASEM-summit."
But the ASEM-summit is not in the position to make any decisions. It’s simply a forum for exchanging ideas. Besides talking about the financial crisis other topics will be energy policies, protecting the environment and preventing climate change. Another major issue is bilateral trade. Many European countries criticise restrictions on trade, violation of copyright laws and flooding Western markets with cheap articles.
Serge Abou, Ambassador of the European Commission, strengthens better trade agreements: "If there are two continents that really need an agreement on trade then it’s Europe and Asia. Both regions import raw materials and export products and technology so we do need an improved framework to facilitate trade. "
The ASEM Summit will end on Saturday, giving European and Asian nations sufficient time for one-on-one meetings on the sidelines which could boost future relations between Europe and Asia.